Ghostline (2015) *
D: Dean Whitney
C: Rachel Alig, Zack Gold, Burt Culver, Mark Benjamin, Raquel Elizabeth Ames, Pia Thrasher, Justin Little, Tim Clifton, Andrea Bensussen
Plot Synopsis: Life takes a terrifying and unpredictable turn for Tyler & Chelsea when they begin to receive menacing phone calls from a seemingly unstable woman who insists that Tyler's her ex-boyfriend.
Review: Ghostline starts with a young couple moving into a house that they've inherited. From there, they start receiving phone calls from a ghost claiming to be an ex-girlfriend. Films that involve menacing phone calls have provided great horror movie fodder. Prime examples include the original versions of When A Stranger Calls & Black Christmas.
Part of the allure comes in that you don't know who exactly is at the other end of a telephone line and when they're going to do something macabre. After a first act that utilizes the ambiguous nature of phone based horror movies, Ghostline turns into something far more literal. That's when things go astray.
Instead of haunting a phone line, the ghost decides to haunt the actual house that the couple has inherited. The introductory scenes establish that the reason the ghost is haunting a phone line vs a house is that the phone line used to be the number of an ex who possibly murdered them. The first thing that bugged me with this change in plot development: if the reason the ghost is haunting a phone line is due to their attachment to it, then how are they able to appear in physical form to haunt a house they've never lived in, let alone stepped foot in?!?
After switching gears to become a haunted house chiller, Ghostline switches things up (yet again) to throw in ghost hunters & a phony prophet. These scenes are played for comedic value. Not only do these scenes feel out of place, but they're downright gratuitous as they don't develop the story in any meaningful way. They merely exist to provide for some cheap laughs at the expense of the characters.
As if that wasn't enough, Ghostline throws in additional sub-plots involving the ghost turning murderous, a mystery like diversion involving the hunt for the ex-boyfriend of the ghost & a story involving kind hearted cops who try to help the couple being haunted. However, they save the worst for last, a desperate attempt to close out things on a sentimental note!
It's as though the people behind this threw everything into the bucket. None of it works. The film jerks viewers around expecting us to buy into one ridiculous scenario after another. Why didn't they trust in their haunted phone line story? That was a solid premise! After awhile and after many plot deviations, my reaction was: who are you kidding?!? As a critic, I soldiered on in seeing this movie out. Viewers (on the other hand) have another option. They can simply hang up on this mess of a movie. [Not Rated] 85 minutes.
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