JUNE 28, 2010
It’s getting to the point where I have very few options left at Blockbuster, as the chain is buying less and less copies of DTV stuff in favor of more copies of high profile stuff that they can rent a few times and sell “previewed” for a profit. After scanning the new release shelves (nothing eligible at ALL), I headed to the horror section, where I actually counted the number of movies I hadn’t seen. There were four, and Ghosts Of Goldfield was the only one that didn’t have any bonus material, which I am trying to avoid this week so I can finish up some other stuff (and play Lego Harry Potter!).
Hopefully it’s also the worst of the lot, because if not it’s going to be hard to gather up the enthusiasm to return for the others. It’s a typical DTV horror movie, in that it has one known actor (Roddy Piper) in a small but prominently featured on the trailer/DVD box role and a bunch of kids who can’t really act. This one’s a bit different in that one of them went on to score a role in Twilight, Mr. Kellan Lutz. And I usually think the guy’s pretty good (he’s my favorite character in Prom Night!), but he’s pretty awful here*, and his top billed role is seemingly a late-in-the-game decision to cash in on his Twi-fame, as he’s not the main character. In fact, there are several occasions in the first act of the film where he seems to be absent from the set entirely, as a master shot will reveal the other four kids without him, with his presence made up from badly inserted cutaways. It’s really odd. Once some of the others are dead he takes more of a central role, but the main character throughout is really Marnette Patterson, who apparently appeared in Nightmare on Elm St 5 (must have been one of the little jump roping girls).
That last act is also where the movie finally becomes tolerable, as instead of just wandering around a “creepy” (their description) abandoned hotel, they start dying (in surprisingly graphic manner) and running away from ghosts and such. It also has a downer ending that sees all of them killed and joining the other ghosts trapped in the hotel. Sweet!
But until then, yikes. Piper is awful in his 5 minutes of screentime, and the backstory is shockingly dull (some nonsense about a woman whose child was taken away from her). And the kids are as annoying as they get, especially the obligatory “stoner” friend who asks things like “What the hell is a portal?” and inadvertently fucks his friend’s girlfriend (he thinks it’s a ghost, if I am following the movie properly). This is supposed to be a really crushing moment, because he’s also the boyfriend of Patterson’s character, but since none of them have any chemistry together (or even any scenes to themselves), I actually didn’t even realize they were together until she said it out loud a few scenes later (to Lutz), before they make out. Stop screwing around, people!
Even the “action packed” 3rd act has problems, like when the stoner guy has a nightmare about how he dies and then instantly dies in that manner, which is the very definition of anticlimactic. And since it’s yet another angry ghost who just wants an object returned to her, I spend half of it wondering why the ghost couldn’t just ask for it instead of scaring and killing everyone.
It’s also pretty poorly edited and shot, as if no one involved had ever done these things before. Nearly every scene unfolds in a master shot, often with the camera just sort of plunked down far enough away to get everyone in the frame. And the editing is worse; characters will walk out of the frame and then it will hold on the dead space for 3-5 seconds before cutting to the next poorly shot scene.
I was also bugged by the fact that the director named the ghosts after himself (Winfield). Granted he’s not a household name or anything (in fact this is his only credited film in any capacity), but what the hell kind of weird ego trip is that? Trust me, if I ever write my dream slasher movie (it involves NASA!), I’m not going to name anyone BC or even “William” (middle name). Maybe a “Robert” after my dad or something, but come on man, just grab a phone book and pick any name in the world besides your own. Then again, this is "based on a true story", as with most crappy horror movies, but it seems to have more weight than usual: there IS a Goldfield Hotel in Nevada that is supposedly haunted, and the legend (which is filled with holes) does match the one in the film (nothing about 5 jackasses getting killed while trying to investigate it though). I also learned that the guy involved with the legend is named WinGfield, not Winfield, so maybe I just heard it wrong in the movie. Or the director is a pseudonym (again, he has no other credits) and wanted to try to pretend to be a relative.
Sadly, there are no extra features to explain - hey wait a minute, I rented this movie specifically because it didn’t have any supplements! Oh, not-cruel irony!
What say you?
*A quote praising his performance is the only blurb the movie got, apparently - they actually use it on both the front and back covers, which has to be a first.