Death of a Ghost Hunter DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Well Go Usa
I'm not sure I like this. – Yvette.
Directed by Sean Tretta
Written by Sean Tretta and Mike Marsh
2007, Region 1, 106 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on July 8th, 2008
Patti Tindall as Carter Simms
Mike Marsh as Colin Green
Davina Joy as Yvette Sandoval
Lindsay Page as Mary Young Mortenson
Five thousand dollars. That's the amount renowned ghost hunter and author Carter Simms (Patti Tindall) is offered to stay a weekend in the Masterson house. A house where, twenty years earlier, a tragic murder took place — the entire Masterson family was slaughtered — with the exception of the mother. She simply had the pleasure of finding the bodies of hubby and the kids and, in her grief, stuck the business end of a pistol in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
Ever since that fateful night, there've been strange goings on in little Amityville. While the house has been free of residents for two decades, the stories still manifest. So the nephew of the murdered family offers Carter the cash to prove, once and for all, if the joint is haunted. He has one stipulation: Carter cannot be in the house alone, and a journalist and videographer must accompany her (albeit under her control). She prefers to work solo, but five thousand is five thousand, so she reluctantly accepts his terms. The job ends up costing her her life.
Calm down kids, that's not a spoiler. If the title Death of a Ghost Hunter wasn't enough of a clue, you quickly find out in the first few minutes of the film Carter doesn't make it out alive. The movie actually opens with a caption explaining that the investigation "...ended in her death.". The mystery isn't if she died, but how. And dammit if Hunter didn't come this close to being one hell of a movie.
The acting across the board is solid. Patti Tindall does a great job portraying Carter as a driven, if somewhat troubled, woman. It would be easy for any actress worth her salt to play a strong character, but it's a lot tougher to play someone like Carter. Her strength is an obvious cover, nothing more than a wall of protection, and Tindall delivers a heckuva performance showing this.
Mike Marsh and Davina Joy offer strong support as Colin Green and Yvette Sandoll (the videographer and journalist package deal). And while Lindsay Page as the Bible thumping Mary Young is a little wooden at times, she pulls through when most needed.
But the most impressive thing about Death of a Ghost Hunter is its direction. While the story isn't original by any stretch — this is Sci-Fi's "Ghost Hunters" meets any haunted house movie — director Sean Tretta (The Great American Snuff Film) makes this film move. From the opening scene I was engrossed, eager to see the mystery of the Masterson house unfold. Using light CGI — CGI that works very well, especially considering it's a low-budget film — and a solid script, Tretta guides you through this house of horrors, never showing you too much or too little. He gives you just enough to keep you wanting more. Until the last 20 minutes.
And that is the pisser. For more than three quarters of the movie, bits and pieces of the mystery are given to you, a little at a time, through what the characters are experiencing in the house, or through quick, angry flashbacks. Yet some genius must have decided things were too smart and the movie you've been watching for 85 minutes all but stops, and another starts. This second 15-minute featurette is nothing but exposition. It tells the entire story of what happened the night the Mastersons were killed, who did it, and why. After your history lesson, the last five minutes pick right back up where it left off for the finale. It felt as if we, as an audience, are obviously too dimwitted to figure out what happened on our own, so it must be force fed to us. This piss poor segue is not enough to destroy the movie, but it's certainly enough to do some damage. It begs the question who made this decision, and why? Hunter moves fine on its own, and it feels like at the last minute someone panicked and said, "The audience won't get this! We need to fill them in! Someone get a spoon, it's time for feeding!"
Yet, even with its (very) flawed ending, Death of a Ghost Hunter is well worth an watch because the majority of the movie is that good. It's really frustrating the filmmakers put zero faith in the intelligence of their audience — this is something I expect from a major Hollywood release, not a low-budget film that generally has to rely on its script and story for lack of money and star power. And still the movie is compelling enough to give a spin.
Video and Audio:
Hunter has an overall sharp and blemish free picture. There are some light instances of mosquito noise, but those are few and far between and don't distract from the film in the least. In some of the indoor shots some of the colors become a little drab, but this could very well be the filmmaker's intention to go along with the coldness of the house.
The offered 2.0 audio gets it done for the most part. There was more than one instance of a high popping out, and I had to rewind at least once to catch what was said. The movie would have greatly benefited from a 5.1 mix, considering the type of film it is.
- Deleted Scenes
The special features are surprisingly lacking. I'm used to seeing more of the goods with a low-budget movie, at least more than some deleted scenes. (Much like "chapter selection", I no longer consider "trailers" to be anything special.)
The deleted scenes are nothing mind-blowing and, like most deleted scenes, were rightfully cut. However, it should be mentioned that each cut scene has an intro by Tretta, and those intros made me wish for a commentary, if only to hear why it was necessary to have the mystery unravel like it did.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, OPPO DV-970HD DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)