Zeke is a small-town nerd, more interested in cruising message boards on his laptop than enjoying parties. He jumps at the chance to help pretty girl Mattie find out if her father’s old house is haunted or not. Zeke is a part of an amateur ghost hunting team and rallies the troops to find out if the legend of seven toe Maggie is true. Ghost Witch is the 2015 feature length directing debut for writer and actor Joseph Lavender, available now on Amazon Video and other VOD platforms.
The Good:The best aspect of this movie is the relationship between the characters and their natural feel. Based on the budget of the film, if I had to guess, the director got his friends together for a week or two to film his new project. The characters interacted like real friends and most of their responses to each other and the paranormal experiences are realistic. Chase Steven Anderson (Zeke), Mandi Christine Kerr (Mattie) and Christina Pykles (Kylie) give the best performances of the film by far. When I checked their IMDB pages, I was not surprised to see that they have many more credits than the rest of the cast. Kerr may be the most successful, after a recent 10-episode run on The Walking Dead as Barbara.
The film feels slightly long, but has an overall good pace to it. Mattie and Zeke first interact at her brother’s pool party one weekend. It feels like he puts out the call to his friends and they are there the next day or the next weekend. Once they arrive in town, they are at the house setting up cameras and experiments with not much scary happening that first night. However, it doesn’t take too long before certain members of the team experience the unexplainable.
The house they chose is a good setting for a horror movie: old, dusty and the dry wall was violently torn down, damaging some of the wall structures. Unfortunately, they muted that aspect of the house by making the plumbing and electricity fully functional.
While I think the film has a decent pace, there is too much time in between (mostly lack luster) scares. Instead of more supernatural occurrences with Maggie making her presence felt, we get drama with the local police department and an overzealous grounds keeper. There is also an instance where they talk about finding blood when a character places his hand in it, but you can clearly see his hand is clean. It is the main fault of the budget. During the other small scares I didn’t notice any wires or mirrors to provide the effect, or it was above-average CGI work.
Ask any writer and they will tell you that writing the ending is the hardest part of any story because it has to wrap up all the loose ends and leave the viewer/reader feeling satisfied. Unfortunately, the ending is where things really start to fall apart for this movie. After 95% of the movie goes by with little action, everything is crammed in here at the end. Characters entire personalities seem to change and other characters get new back-stories that are not physically possible.
Recommendable or not:
While there is nothing overtly terrible about this movie there isn’t anything noteworthy either. It is fine to have on in the background while you surf Facebook, fold laundry, or maybe even at a tame Halloween party, but there isn’t enough here to demand 90+ minutes of undivided attention. I want to like it more than I do because I like the characters and feel like everyone worked very hard on this movie, but in the end, it has to be a weak not-recommend.