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RATED: Not Rated
STUDIO: Reality Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 80 interminable minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: A big ol’ heap’a nuthin’.
Ghost Hunters with tea and crumpets. Also, something actually happens.
Philip Gardiner (director), Lee Roberts, Michelle Gant, Pete Cox, Matthew Davies, Michelle Hare
A bunch of limeys strut around a marketplace trying to catch some ghostly goings-on, all the while failing to convince you that this “investigation” is not staged AT ALL.
Paranormal Activity was a movie that I found myself appreciating more than actually enjoying. The way it pulled off simple haunted house effects and managed to be genuinely creepy at times was the only thing that gave the movie any credibility. The acting, story and filming were lackluster and the resolution of the movie was one of the laziest I’ve seen in a horror movie. But, the real impact and legacy of Paranormal Activity comes from its countless imitators and rip-offs. It seems every low budget filmmaker became convinced they could do a “realistic” horror flick on the cheap and maybe even attempt a Blair Witch Project dupe of, “This totally happened, you guys.”
Such is the ilk that Ghost Attack on Sutton Street belongs to. Done with the cooperation of an actual ghost hunting team (Haunted Events UK), the movie takes place over the course of a night as the team does what they can to establish contact with any Caspers that might be hanging around.
And that’s pretty much the entire first half of the movie. If you’ve seen any of these “searching for ghosts” shows, you can expect all the cliches to rear their ugly heads. We get lots of thermal imaging (I swear that two-thirds of the movie is the cameraman looking at the tiny handheld thermal camera someone else is holding), some classic parlor tricks like levitating a table, and the absolutely mandatory “I felt something” bit where one person swears that something just happened to them and everyone else is all, “Oh man, that’s a whole lotta spooky.” It’s dull and not in the least bit eerie. There’s ten minutes of the group spinning a glass around on table and creating a human Ouija board. Not only is it mundane, but listening to a glass spun around on a tabletop for ten minutes is horrendously grating to the ears.
And to be completely honest, I thought that the movie was a legitimate episode of some British Ghost Hunters program for the first half. It was just as boring and nonsensical, and absolutely nothing had happened. I’m sure that has to do with everyone on camera being part of an actual ghost hunting team from the UK. But then, at almost the exact halfway point of the movie, the leader of the group (Lee Roberts) and his historian friend (Michelle Gant) tell everyone else that there is a horrible legend attached to the place that they didn’t want to reveal. They say that an old man back in the 1800′s kidnapped and murdered children from this area back when it was a slum. No one knows who he was or what ever happened to him. Once this happened, I knew that the whole thing was actually a fake documentary and my hopes actually heightened. Now that it was obvious that this was a scripted affair, the story could really ramp up and we could have lots of specter hijinks. But, instead of going all out, they try to make the events as “real” as possible.
At this point, maybe I should make it known that I don’t believe in ghosts. I did when I was a kid and am still fascinated by the mythology and pseudoscience surrounding paranormal doings, but I don’t believe in it. So, maybe that makes me even more cynical to the later half of the movie. The things that start occurring are silly and simple, but not in an effectively scary way. The thermal camera (seriously, they should have just filmed the movie through a Predator mask) sees handprints left on the walls, doors shut off-camera, and toy cars that were set-up earlier move all on their own. Ooooooooooooooooooo. The entire climax of the film is a door slamming shut all on its own. Then we get a final sit-down with the folks involved and it’s roll credits.
Everyone involved does give off a very natural vibe on camera. I can’t really say that they are acting since they are essentially just going through the motions of what they do on a regular basis: ghost huntin’. What doesn’t help is an almost nonstop score that at times drowns out what some of the people are saying. And the score sounds like a temp track made up from tons of stock music, so that’s not doing the film any favors.
If you want to see a far more effective piece of British mockumentary horror, I’d recommend Ghostwatch, which I’m sure the filmmakers behind this would cite as an influence. But unlike Ghostwatch, Ghost Attack on Sutton Street fails to escalate the scares once the audience is in on the hoax. It tries to fabricate the most optimal episode of a ghost hunting show ever filmed, and that just ends up being bland and uninteresting. I’ll give them credit for fooling me during the first half, but once things have the potential to be fun and spooky, they drop the ball hard.
You get two trailers at the end of the movie for other Philip Gardiner films. They aren’t even selectable from the menu. That’s all, folks.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars