Judas Ghost

At some point in your life, you've probably been forced to sit through some sort of training film. No one wants to watch them and certainly no one wants to make them, but there's always someone who has to do one or the other, or both. There are probably training films about how to make training films. Even so, some such films are bound to be more exciting than others, like the ones made for trainee ghost hunters.

That's what's going on in Judas Ghost -- a top team of ghost hunters working for the Carnacki Institute have been sent out on a routine assignment which is to be filmed for training purposes. There's an ordinary little haunting going on in an otherwise normal little village hall in some random town, and it's perfect for the trainees because it's such a typical example. Of course it's very far from routine, but the Institute doesn't know that -- or do they?

Jerry McKay (Martin Delaney, who will soon be in Now You See Me 2) is the slightly smarmy team leader who's always got everything under control, even when he doesn't. Anna (Lucy Cudden) is the psychic of the group who hears and sees things the others don't. Ian (Alexander Perkins) is the tech guy who handles all the computer scanning and such. He's afraid of the dark and should really have a nice normal job in the IT department of a bank, but somehow ended up here. Then there's Simon Merrells (The Wolfman, and also Spartacus) as Mark Vega, the cameraman.

Mark isn't just a cameraman any more than this is just a regular assignment, though. He led a top team of ghost hunters himself for fifteen years, until Buchanan Abbey. None of them know the details except for Mark, but apparently rumor and innuendo are quite enough to make all of them edgy when they hear those two words.

The haunting in the hall started several months ago, yet had no apparent trigger, which is weird. Anna is also surprised to discover that although the preschool play group meets there, there's no sign of any 'psychic residue' from the kids. (They do draw very disturbing pictures, but most kids do that.) Then things get really strange when everyone blinks and it's suddenly night outside, and even the hall itself seems to be changing.

All the action takes place in the hall, which is just a largish room with some bulletin boards and a piano, but that doesn't mean things get boring. There's plenty of trouble that four ghost hunters can get into even in this relatively small space, and the claustrophobia doesn't hurt the fear factor.

The gallons upon gallons of fake blood, on the other hand, quickly lose all power to shock. But while there aren't a lot of startling twists here, it's still a spooky movie. While the actors all do a good job, it's Simon Merrells who steals the scenes as Mark slowly realizes that he'll never be able to escape his past. Apparently once you work for the Institute you always work for the Institute... and then there's the fact that it isn't possible to unsee all those horrors.

Four out of five. While the movie has its flaws (I'm pretty sure that a few of the tech-related things Ian was doing aren't possible, for example), it's a great example of what can be done with a small budget, a good cast, and a solid, well-paced script. Though for all you amateur ghost hunters out there, you probably shouldn't use it as a training film.

Image: 
Jerry and Mark. Note that Jerry's shirt didn't start out that color.

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Cheers! Became life long

Cheers! Became life long friends with these bozos!

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