Director: Simon Pearce
Cast: Martin Delaney, Lucy Cudden, Alexander Perkins, Simon Merrells, Grahame Fox
Running Time: 75 minutes
JUDAS GHOST is never quite what you think it’s going to be.
The film follows four paranormal investigators filming themselves at the site of a haunting, but these are not hucksters (don’t expect GRAVE ENCOUNTERS), nor is director Simon Pearce relying on a found footage format for his picture.
The four ghost hunters are actually filming a training video for others back at the university – others studying to become field agents, like themselves. So, it’s an earnest paranormal sleuthing – or is it? Could it be that the university has set up these field agents, pitting them against something they couldn’t have prepared for?
I wish I could tell you, but thanks to some showy but shallow writing, that’s never exactly clear.
Jerry (Martin Delaney), Anna (Lucy Cudden), Ian (Alexander Perkins), and loose cannon Mark (Simon Merrells) lead us through the basic steps of rooting out paranormal problems until they come to a realization about what it is they’re facing.
Simon R. Green’s screenplay offers an abundance of clever lines concerning the business of ghost hunting. Everything else is aggravatingly under developed, including the mysterious case at Bucannon Abby – the event that left Mark damaged, casting an eerie pall over the current investigation.
Aside from three or four brief flashbacks, mostly of Mark running through some woods, JUDAS GHOST is staged like a play. The characters never leave one room. As doors appear and disappear, and faces and sounds float in and out, each investigator is left to sense and react to an encroaching doom that the audience never truly feels.
The characters are stuck in one spot, and we’re stuck with them. Pearce can’t manage to generate the sense of claustrophobia that would have ratcheted up tension. Without that, the story’s lack of momentum leaves you with a stagnant plot.
Perhaps to compensate for a general absence of excitement, or possibly to overcome the paper-thin back story and insufficient character development, performances are often startlingly theatrical.
Pearce’s feature is like a cinematic bet: Can you take 4 characters, stick them in one room for 75 minutes, and make a horror movie?
Yes, you can. But why?
JUDAS GHOST is released on VOD December 1 from Uncork’d Entertainment.