I’m just going to come right out and say it. I have nothing cute to relate to the experience I had with Ghosts of Darkness. Nothing, zilch, nada if you will. I kind of hope you won’t. Honestly, I do this to myself. I went into this film hoping for a great campy horror romp and I am still not even sure what I ended up with. This movie was the visual equivalent of “Let’s wing it”. I know I should have saved some of that for the conclusion of this article, but after what I just saw, I needed some efficiency.
Michael Koltes and Paul Flannery play Jack and Jonathan, two mismatched paranormal investigators. They are forced to work together, locked in a house with a dark past for three nights. Jack is a skeptic and has spent his career catching frauds, while Jonathan is a psychic who uses flair and flamboyance to get the job done. They believe the challenge ahead of them will be an easy way to make a few bucks and help boost each of their reputations. It doesn’t take long for the house to show its true nature and the pair have more than their egos at stake.
I feel like I just gave you the DNA strain that would have been born from a lineage that contained: The X-Files, Evil Dead, House (the 80s movie not the recent TV show), and Poltergeist. Which if someone told me that was the movie I was going to get then I would have been thrilled. Unfortunately, Ghosts of Darkness misses too many of the quality components that would be required to make this something great.
For starters, the two people we spend all of our time with are really hard to watch. Michael Koltes’ delivery has very little substance to it, often appearing to be simply reading from his script. He was also supposed to be the “Straight Man” in this little caper, yet was often overshadowed by his counterpart. Now, that is not to say that Paul Flannery is free and clear of any issues. He was our comedic relief, but the choices he made for the role were so incredibly distracting. For example, why, oh why, did he have a fake accent? I don’t understand it. It wasn’t necessary for the character to have an accent, it wasn’t even a “good” fake accent. Knowing it was there created a missed opportunity for some great comedy. I kept waiting for that pivotal moment when all hell was breaking loose and Jonathan Blaze would turn to Jack and confess in his regular voice, “I got to get something off my chest… this accent’s all an act” Jack: “ Yea, that’s kind of obvious”. I wanted that moment, I needed that moment. Beyond this the problem was also that he was very clearly acting. His performance wasn’t wooden though, and it would have been great to see him try a few more things with this role as he showed signs of a solid comedian.
As stated before, the story had a good concept to it, but concept isn’t enough. We all know that you can have all the style you want, but if you don’t have the substance to back it up, then you aren’t compelling anyone to stick with you. This script needed a lot of help, especially with the dialogue, which was just clunky and weird. The film also had the tendency to show you a pivotal moment, then later remind you of it by telling you about it in dialogue, with additional detail and flashback…and with almost as much time on it as we spent previously. We could dig deeper into that, but even the flaws are not particularly memorable.
As an artist I work on many levels. First conceptualize, then sketch, then line work, etc. My point is that I understand there are numerous levels in the process of creating. Nothing is actually lightning in a bottle. I am going to use those terms now for Ghosts of Darkness. The movie felt like I was looking at a creative’s sketchbook. If the creative took this sketchbook and refined every sketch to a finished level, we would then have a great campy horror movie on our hands. However, the fact that we are looking at a sketch and something unfinished is inescapable. Ultimately, this film is a series of scribbles.
Hollywood Outsider Review Score
Performances - 1.5
Story - 3
Production - 1.5
'Ghosts of Darkness' misses its potential by heading down a well-worn trail.