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DVD Review

DVD cover

Ghost Machine


Starring: Sean Faris, Rachael Taylor and Luke Ford
Anchor Bay Films
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 12 April 2010

Tom (Sean Faris) and his assistant, Vic (Luke Ford) have created an almost perfect virtual reality program for the military, one that Jess (Rachael Taylor) regrets engaging in as she fails and is forced to run laps to pay for her lack of performance. Tom has greater plans for his new technology and following meeting Benny (Jonathan Harden), takes it to an abandoned prison which is guarded by Iain(Sam Corry), who allows Tom to turn the building into another virtual space, but little do Iain and Benny realise that their weekend fun has awoken a malevolent ghost who also want to come out to play...

Ghost Machine (2009 - 1 hr, 28 min, 29 sec) is an independent sci-fi/horror film directed by Chris Hartwill from a script by Sven Hughes and Malachi Smyth.

For an independent film the story has some nice touches, but what really lets the whole thing down are the realisation of the ghost, which looks like a bit of a rip off from the Japanese version of Ring, but without the whole creepy effect which that film was able to muster.

The location, although obviously a cheap abandoned building, is generally used to good effect with the minimum of set dressing, the dusty, crumbling interior adds to the overall sense of claustrophobia.

Overall, the level of acting is far superior than that which is usually expected from an independent movie, with Sean Faris (Reunion) putting in a particularly realistic performance. Some of the smaller characters tend to be one dimensional, but then the film is designed to be a rollercoaster ride rather than some introspective examination of the characters.

The special effects, an area which usually suffers from a lack of budget, are passable as they are used to their best effect, a case of doing what you can with the little you have. Most of the gore is unrealistic but presented so rapidly that you don’t get a chance to be pulled out of the narrative.

The script generally holds up and even has a few beats near the end of the film which brings up some interesting angles which the movie doesn’t have time to explore.

The film comes with audio options for either a 2.0 stereo track or a 5.1 Dolby. The disc contains a couple of extras. The Making of Ghost Machine (30 min) is the usual fare which gets the actors to explain their characters and crew appear to discuss some of the thinking behind the film - it’s nice if not particularly deep. There's an interview with Sven Hughes (10 min, 01 sec) talking about the genesis of the plot. The disc is wrapped up with the original theatrical trailer (2 min, 05 sec).

So this is never going to go down in the canon of classic films, but it has some nice touches and a level of acting which does not make you think that it was made for a tenner by a bunch of mates with a long weekend on their hands.


Charles Packer

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