The Ghosts of Edendale

Starring: Steven Wastell and Paula Ficara
Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
RRP: 14.99
Certificate: 15
Available 10 April 2006

Rachel and Kevin move from the east coast to begin a new life in the Hollywood hills. As they move in to their new home the neighbours turn up to introduce themselves, and all go out of their way to make the couple feel at home. Only one man, whom the others refer to as a simpleton, appears not to fit in to the local lifestyle. When the man goes missing, curiously Rachel is the only person concerned about his disappearance. She experiences a couple of ghost sightings, but tries to shrug them off for Kevin's sake. When she takes a modelling job, staying away for a few days, she returns to find that Kevin has changed. He is harsher, more brutal and determined. With almost religious fervour he turns his hand to writing a western movie script, which is almost too conveniently snapped-up by a movie producer neighbour at a party. Gradually, Rachel realises to her horror that Edendale has quite a movie history which dates back to the 1920s, and the hill is still haunted by the Hollywood heroes of yesteryear...

To use a football analogy, The Ghosts of Edendale is a film of two halves. The first half is well-paced, the suspense slowly building over a period of time. Unlike many films, we get to know the central characters a little before too much happens to them. But it never has the feeling of being slow. We learn that Rachel has seen ghosts before, back home, and we get to witness the early sightings with her, one of which is a genuine scary surprise straight out of a Japanese horror film. The ghostly faces in the fence are reminiscent of Graham Masterton's novel Revenge of the Manitou, wherein a face forms in the wood of a wardrobe in the opening chapters.

I also like the, if you will, otherworldly aspect of Edendale. It's a Stepford Wives or Village of the Damned neighbourhood of well-to-do film people. The surreal quality reminds me of a leisurely drive through Kent I undertook with my sister and brother- in-law some years back. We arrived seemingly by chance in Edenbridge (see the connection now?) where a village fete was in full swing. There was some mystery as to where the mayor and the carnival queen had disappeared to, and loudhailers kept calling for their return. When we tried to leave Edenbride all roads led back to the village and it took us four of five attempts to get away.

Anyway, back to the plot, and at the point when Kevin turns bad so does the film. Although the notion that Kevin is - or becomes - the ghost of silent movie western star Tom Mix is a good one, the characters and the story itself lose their way. Perhaps feeling that an impressive impact should be made to conclude the movie, we get an unwanted plethora of ghosts. Hasn't anyone told these people that quite often less is more? Suspension of disbelief is also lost when Rachel, instead of leaving to hitchhike her way back to the east coast when Kevin turns violent, invites her sister over to collect her and then proceeds to leave the woman alone with Kevin, her unstable boyfriend. I also felt cheated out of a logical ending.

Special features include a commentary with the director and producer, Behind the Scenes (which consists of lots of cam footage of very untidy rooms, and warnings to other low-budget filmmakers not to shoot a film in their own house), the Remaking of a Scene, a Special Effects short, Deleted Scenes and a Trailer. In short, The Ghosts of Edendale is not a total disaster, although it does get very messy at the end.

Ty Power

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