Ghostlight, where do I start with you? Director Jeff Ferrell’s first feature film went the way of a traditional horror movie: a ghost story. A ghost story that asks you “Would you spend the night in a haunted theater for $50,000?”. It really is a fun concept for a movie considering the memorable House on Haunted Hill shares the same idea but is 55 years old and could use a breath of fresh air. Sad to say, though, it felt like a lot more than a re-used plot idea which held this movie back from really shining in a sea of indie supernatural horror movies.
The story invites us into the lives of married couple Andrew (Brian Sutherland) and Mira (Lisa Coronado). To the dismay of Mira, Andrew has won a radio contest that would require him to spend the night in a haunted theater for a prize of $50,000. Easy enough, right? Oh, did we mention that the solo sleepover would fall on the 80th anniversary of an infamous double murder-suicide and plenty of mysterious deaths have occurred ever since?
This film had enough to deliver a solid ghost story but didn’t feel polished enough to achieve it. I noticed with this film that a good script can really suffer if the acting can’t approach it the way it’s intended to and that was a major issue here with Ghostlight. The tone was almost too serious and melodramatic at times, especially when showing scenes with the current theater owner, Gideon Black (Dennis Kleinsmith), making it a little dicey. The recovered screen test of one of the original victims from the 1930’s really suffered by the fact that it was shot digitally. It would have been much more believable had it been shot on film. Ghostlight was TOO clean that it lost a lot of the spook factor.
The movie has its setbacks but not without it’s good points! Brian Sutherland’s role as Andrew was believable and he held a lot of the movie up all his own. He and Lisa played very well off of each other as a married couple and it made their relationship coupled with her constant dread seem a lot more feasible. I have to mention that the score, which was composed by Semih Tareen, added a nice and eerie feel to the film as it builds. The film relied more on story than scares, but the few jumps here and there that you got were fun additions. An unexpected twist really softened the low points and brought a lot of understanding to certain previous scenes. We are also treated to Jeff Ferrell busting out his acting chops in the role of Eddie in the film! I can appreciate a filmmaker who’s hands-on and seeing as Ferrell is the writer/producer/director/editor/and actor of Ghostlight, I’d say he deserves some applause for his introductory project to the feature length film world.
Ghostlight is now available on DVD including most Family Video locations. It is directed by Jeff Ferrell and stars Brian Sutherland and Lisa Coronado. Ghostlight is being released courtesy of Brain Damage Films.