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It's Scary, But Not In The Way I'd Hoped It Would Be

  • Feb 13, 2010
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As a rule, I always round up when I feel that a film falls into the "half-star" void here on Amazon, but "Ghost Machine" had me longing to give it only two stars. I'll get to my three star reasoning in just a bit, but let's get the particulars out of the way first.

The tale centers around two young military scientists, Tom and Vic (Sean Faris, Luke Ford), two of their tech-head gaming friends, Iain and Benny(Sam Corry, Jonathan Harden), and a special forces soldier (Rachael Taylor), who battle it out with a vengeful spirit in a virtual gaming world.

Faris ("Never Back Down"---never heard of it) and Ford ("The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor"), smuggle a top secret virtual combat simulator off base and take it to a supposedly haunted old prison. Once the games begin, something evil infiltrates their virtual world and makes pain and death a very real consequence of the game.

Back on the base, Jess (Rachael Taylor of "Transformers") is harassed and threatened by her commanding officer (Richard Dormer). Not feeling very safe at the base, she heads out to find Tom and Vic and finds herself in the thick of things with the group as they battle an evil and elusive former inmate at the prison (Hatla Williams).

Jess' commanding officer is thrown into the fray a bit later to give a twist to the film, but overall this is a badly acted, poorly directed snoozer.

So why three stars? I have to admit that when I first read the description of the film, I wanted to write it off as a gamer's wet dream and, not being of the hardcore "gaming" variety, figured this film would be bad. I was correct, but "Ghost Machine" wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be. Something about the film held my interest. Williams' character was just sinister enough to make me want to see her exact her revenge. The two supporting characters of Iain and Benny were completely opposite of each other but just good enough to keep me wanting to see what happened to them. Heck, even the stock, crazed commander (Dormer), gave a decent enough performance to hold my attention.

What makes it bad, though, is the acting of Faris and Ford and the completely unbelievable casting of Taylor as a special forces soldier. I've seen ford in the "Mummy" sequel, and he did a much better job there. Perhaps the director is to blame for his poor performance here. I've seen Taylor in "Transformers," "Man-Thing," "See No Evil," and "Shutter," and while she didn't necessarily dazzle me with any of her performances in those films, I think this film has got to be one of her worst ones so far.

The DVD comes with previews for a few other films. I've seen a couple of them ("Stan Helsing" and "Grace," both snoozers) and the other previews didn't impress either. There's also an "interview" with the writer that's dull and a "making of" featurette featuring bad music, bad audio, and bad lighting.

So, in conclusion, "Ghost Machine" is a bad film. It did manage to hold my interest throughout thanks to the supporting cast, but I can't honestly recommend this film as a purchase to anyone. Bad horror fans (like myself) may find a few bits and pieces worth watching, but overall this film is a dud.

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More Ghost Machine (2009) reviews
review by . April 22, 2010
The movie is about a military simulation computer that helps train soldiers in combat. The computer gets hijacked by a ghost when the programmers took the simulator and used it for gaming. So, they have to try to escape the machine. The movie is ok, short and too the point. The coinncidences were too obvious and, as another reviewer said, not enough humor.    The Special Features are not that great. It has a boring making-of featurette.    All in all, it was …
review by . January 13, 2010
This premise of this movie was rather simpleton, notwithstanding this simplistic movie was surrounded by unnecessary and lagging plot devices. It also seemed like two or three movies smashed together, say "The Lawnmower Man" and any "Nightmare on Elm Street" movie, with a dash of "Rambo". The plot is that a bunch of friends who are serving in the British military (I am pretty darn sure it was British since everyone in the film, save Sean Faris, had a British accent) meet up in a condemned prison …
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Kendall Fontenot ()
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Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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About this movie


In the cyber-supernatural B-movieGhost Machine, a military training game that fully immerses soldiers in a virtual reality becomes infested by a malignant spirit--the ghost of a woman who was tortured to death as part of the War on Terror. When a technician named Tom (Sean Faris,Never Back Down) uses sensors to translate a real decommissioned prison into a virtual combat zone, the border between the concrete and the cyber grows fuzzy, turning game death into actual death. It's up to Tom and soldiers Jess (Rachael Taylor,Transformers) and Vic (Luke Ford,The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) to capture this vengeful wraith. Like many B-movies,Ghost Machineis strong on ideas, even if the execution of them lags. The overlap of concrete and virtual realities makes the notion of a haunted video game significantly more compelling. The implicit commentary on the use of torture resonates, even if it isn't carried very far. The dialogue is functional but bland and the men are all fairly nondescript, but Rachael Taylor demonstrates some definite charisma. The movie makes good use of a creepy and decrepit Irish prison, and the special effects, though cheap, are often evocative.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Chris Hartwill
Genre: Horror
Release Date: February 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Sven Hughes, Malachi Smyth
DVD Release Date: December 22, 2009
Runtime: 92 minutes
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
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