I get slagged a lot for either being too easy on films or too picky – which, at the end of the day, can only really mean that there’s no way to please all readers. I’ve often promoted the smaller releases – exactly the kind of film that GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE is and tries to be – because they’re a reasonable alternative to the latest bloated-budget craptacular available for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure). No, GHOST isn’t perfect, and here’s the dirty little secret: it probably was never meant to be. You want to escape for 90 minutes? Then it’s right up your alley.
More after the break …
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “In a Dallas film studio the actors and crew of a horror film become the victims of their own bloody horror story. One by one, they are killed off by a vengeful ghost who seems to be re-enacting some of the scariest moments in the history of film. As the director (Billy Zane) and his pretty actresses begin to piece together a forty year old puzzle, it may be too late for them all. The key to their freedom is held by a creepy old woman who reveals a murder mystery with a shocking and sinister twist.”
So very much of GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE is handled exactly the way it should be: very tongue-in-cheek. The story as described above pokes an awful lot of fun at the conventions of mainstream horror movies, and writer/director Alin Bijan manages to imbue about fifty percent of it with what I’d call an almost ‘Scooby Doo’ vibe: nothing is meant to make perfect sense – after all, half the fun of your average horror flick is just sitting and waiting for the most likely suspects to become the next victim – and (most definitely) none of it is meant to be taken seriously. This is the world of ghosts and demons and old crones and creepy children and other things that go bump in the night; what you think is Billy Zane’s tired expression for contracting into yet one more direct-to-DVD release is actually Billy Zane acting like a disenfranchised direct-to-DVD film producer/director who’s about at the end of his wits with the business.
To my surprise, GHOST was actually very entertaining. If you’re paying attention, the script is smart enough to poke holes in half of the ideas it toys with visually; but – out of quintessential respect for the genre – it still manages to serve up more than a fair share of good old-fashioned scares alongside some obvious post-production camera trickery. For example, watch for Zane to misinterpret a video snippet of the young ghost when he cracks, “Is that CGI? I didn’t authorize that!”
The rest of the cast is rounded out by a roster of familiar faces, especially ones who’ve made their mark in smaller cinema (like that that this film represents); and they each turn up, hit their marks, and (I suspect) have fun with the material. Matt Dallas tries to be the calming force behind so much of the chaos. Danielle Harris is the good-girl-gone-bad in order to pay the rent. Richard Tyson shows up in the opening segment to set this grand affair in motion. And the lovely Lacey Chabert – a gal who only grows more and more fetching with each opportunity – is the good-girl-who-stays-good hell bent on uncovering the mystery behind all of this and bringing this GHOST’s glory days to a fitting and timely end.
GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE (2014) is produced by FTG Media, Media World Studios, and Media World Television. DVD distribution is being handled by Inception Media Group. As for the technical specifications? This is one smartly assembled piece of work, and the producers have spared no expense in serving up some pretty high quality sights and sounds, as well as some modestly impressive digital and in-camera horror effects work. Lastly – if it’s special features you’re looking for – then prepare to be disappointed as there’s nothing extra.
RECOMMENDED. Sometimes the only way to endorse a movie these days is to pony up the simplest explanation possible: (A) it didn’t suck, and (B) it actually kept my interest. There’s nothing wrong with such quality craftsmanship with these smaller releases; that’s precisely why you’re drawn to them when you find them on the shelves of your corner video store (assuming they’re still in business), and you give ‘em a chance to ‘wow’ you for 90 minutes. Trust me: you could do far worse.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Inception Media Group provided me with a DVD copy of GHOST OF GOODNIGHT LANE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.
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