Death of a Ghost Hunter (2007): Small Budget, Big Scares

I have said this before, “Every once in a while, you find a real gem hidden amongst the dross. When this happens it reaffirms your belief that there is still real talent out there in search of better actors and a bigger budget.”

Last night we found another of these ‘hidden gems’ via LOVEFILM. It was actually as scary as Insidious but on a slightly different scale. Where Insidious seemed to have perfected the ‘jump’ scare, Death of a Ghost Hunter, despite the apparent non-existence of a budget, perfected the creep scare.

The amazing thing is, I passed over this film repeatedly in the menu screen on LOVEFILM. The combination of the screenshot used to tout the film along with the lack of a rating made me ignore it at least a dozen times.

Directed and co-written by Sean Tretta (Mike Marsh was the other writer of the screenplay and he also played Colin Green the videographer.) Death of a Ghost Hunter delivers more than it’s fair share of scares. The low budget (so low that it doesn’t appear to exist on any website) is a bit detrimental to the film’s overall success. Mainly in the area of sound, specifically dialogue. If ever a film could have benefited from ADR or just good old fashioned ‘looping’ Ghost Hunter is that film.

The film opened to mixed reviews most of which praised the scare factor but dammed the acting. I felt that the acting was  pretty damn good considering just how low budget the film was. The plot and the story were written extremely well and the film was excellently paced.

The odd ‘clanger’ of a scene would appear every now and then, but it was usually followed by a scene that more than made up for the jolting moment of less than pristine acting. I still think that most of the film’s acting problems would have been eradicated with better sound equipment.

The plot is fairly straightforward.  The film opens with a woman in a nightgown murdering her family and finishing by shooting herself after writing a note of explanation.

22 years later we are introduced to paranormal journalist Carter Simms (Patti Tindall) who is on her way to the house where the murder/suicide took place. She has been offered $5000.00 to either prove or disprove the existence of ghostly happenings on the property.

Arriving at the residence, she meets the owner Joseph Masterson (Tim Wadhams) who is a close relative of the family who died there. He explains to Simms that she will have a local ‘team’ to help her in her investigations. Not overly pleased, but unable to resist the money offered, Simms agrees.

Patti Tindall as Carter Simms

Later she meets her ‘crew’ Colin Green a local videographer and Yvette Sandoval (Davina Joy) a local journalist.  A third person arrives who says that Masterson has asked her oversee the events and to minimize the damage that could be caused to the church that the deceased belonged to.

Despite their initial misgivings the group accept Mary Young Mortenson (Lindsay Page) believing her explanation of intent. Later they find that Masterson has no idea who she is and demands that she be removed from the property.

We find out, along with the ghost hunters, that the Masterson family who lived and died in the house were not your normal everyday bible thumping zealots. This family were, in effect, cultists who worshipped the father of the family and allowed him to sexually molest young women in the neighbourhood. Families would bring their daughters to him for ‘cleansing’ on a regular basis.

This film was brilliantly scary. The build-up and sequences of dis-jarring events kept you off balance enough to really deliver the scares. I can only imagine what this film could have been with a bigger budget.

Running at just 107 minutes the film is not overly long and it paces it’s creepiness brilliantly in the time alloted. I really think that if you can find this film that you won’t regret spending  107 minutes of your life getting the crap scared out of you.

I will be keeping my eyes out for the team of Sean Tretta and Mike Marsh and any future films that they might be making together. They have worked together at least two other times and we can only hope that they repeat the experience for our entertainment enjoyment.

Death of a Ghost Hunter is easily a ‘2 bagger’ of popcorn viewing scary fun. Highly recommended viewing if you can get past the bargain basement budget of the film.

%d bloggers like this: