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directed by Jeff Ferrell
USA 2013

 

The scenario of a foolhardy protagonist spending the night in a haunted location goes pretty far back - from Ambrose Bierce, Gaston Leroux, H.P. Lovecraft, Michael Arlen's "The Gentleman from America" to cinema with films like CASTLE OF BLOOD and its remake and a couple episodes of THRILLER - and even extends in some ways to various found footage horror films. An assured feature debut, Jeff Farrell's GHOSTLIGHT conforms to those models; and it does so effectively due to some well-judged chills, a couple jolts, likable leads, and a touching backstory (that thankfully does not draw out question of why Andrew doesn't interact with his daughter beyond the first ten or so minutes). The story offers nothing revolutionary or that novel but it just goes to show how the simplicity of darkness, shadows, and the possibility of silence being interrupted by things other than the building settling are still the basic requirements to get the imagination - of the protagonist and the viewer - working overtime.

Burdened by a large hospital bill following an accident that almost killed him and did claim the life of his daughter, Andrew (Brian Sutherland, 21 & OVER) thinks winning the opportunity to spend a night in the city's oldest theater for a $50,000 prize being offered up by its publicity-seeking owner Mr. Black (Dennis Kleinsmith, CTHULHU). The catch, of course, is that the building is reputed to be haunted ever since the original owner Reginald (David A. Crellin) brutally murdered his singer wife Madeline (Ramona Freeborn) and her accompanist lover Eddie (writer/director Jeff Ferrell). In the eighty years since then, three actors have snapped and murdered unsuspecting couples among the audience. Against the warnings of his wife grieving Mira (Lisa Coronado, DIFFERENT DRUMMERS) - who still talks to the spirit of their daughter Emma (Eden Campbell) - and the theater's long-suffering caretaker Bob (Russell Hodgkinson, GRASSROOTS), skeptic Andrew - who recalls nothing but blackness while he was clinically dead after the accident - is looking forward to a quiet night. When things do start to go bump in the night, it's only natural for him to suspect that Mr. Black and Bob are out to scare him into forfeiting the prize, but at home Mira is being plagued by ghostly presences attempting to use her daughter's spirit to draw her to the theatre for history to repeat itself a fourth time.

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 3 June 2014 (USA)

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DVD Review: Brain Damage Films - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Brain Damage Films

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:29:39
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.95 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Brain Damage Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by writer/director Jeff Farrell and star Brian Sutherland
• 'Sleepless: The Making of Ghostlight' (74:39)
• Short film 'Morella' (9:31)

DVD Release Date: 3 June 2014
Amaray

Chapters 8

 

Comments

Shot with a Red Scarlet camera and Zeiss lenses, GHOSTLIGHT looks slick but not spectacular on Brain Damage Film's dual-layer disc (looking at times more like a DSLR production rather than something originated, but possibly not mastered, in 4K). The bitrate probably could have been higher, but some of the fault may lie in the grading (although some dreamy softness is appropriate). The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track isn't too adventurous with the usual stings, scare effects, and an elegant score (that in one or two instances fights for dominance with softly spoken dialogue).

 

Extras start with an audio commentary by writer/director Jeff Farrell and star Brian Sutherland. Farrell discusses his beginnings as an actor, musician, and later filmmaker, as well as his discovery of the theater location on a short. Sutherland discusses the preparation that he and Lisa Coronado did before rehearsals, working with the other actors, as well as the degree of improvisation during the shoot. Farrell also points out where actors were directed to play scenes as their possessed selves (which becomes apparent in retrospect or upon an additional viewing). Although the talk is very energetic, they could have used an additional participant or two to cover some of the technical aspects for filmmaking hopefuls (especially since this well-made film's shooting schedule was only ten days).

There is also a lengthy behind-the-scenes featurette with some overlap from the commentary by Farrell, but we also see video from his own night spent in the theater (giving us an appreciation of how the final look of the film differs from the location's natural lighting). Coronado offers more on how she and Sutherland prepared for the role, and we also see Farrell directing his actors via on set video (inspiring their moods with music, including the overused although probably effective in this case Clint Mansell cue from REQUIEM FOR A DREAM). Another chunk of the featurette is devoted to composer Semih Tareen (JUNK), his training, and his inspirations on the project. Also interviewed are cinematographer Mike Barbero - proud of what was achieved in a ten day shoot - make-up artist Shawn Shelton, costume designer Ninnette Robare, as well as background on the theater's "real" haunted history (and incidents during the shooting). Also included is Farrell's adaptation of Poe's MORELLA that introduced him to GHOSTLIGHT actors Coranado and Dennis Kleinsmith, as well as composer Tareen.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Brain Damage Films

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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