Judas Ghost (2013) *1/2
D: Simon Pearce
C: Martin Delaney, Simon Merrells, Lucy Cudden, Alexander Perkins, Grahame Fox
Plot Synopsis: Professional ghost hunters become trapped in an old village hall and have to fight to save their souls.
Review: In Judas Ghost, a team of ghost hunters investigate rumors of a village hall that's being plagued by spooky occurrences. Upon arrival, they find themselves trapped and dealing with an entity far more powerful then they ever estimated.
One of the members of team is haunted by memories of having been the sole survivor of a prior investigation. The various scenarios all serve as a metaphor for the inner torment of this character. There's a scene in which he places himself in a protective circle when unable to deal with the ghost of this current investigation. The metaphor being that the character places himself in a circle (both literally & figuratively) in order to avoid having to address his feelings of guilt, of being a sole survivor and that his problems are always going to be there (sitting outside this circle) until he addresses them.
This metaphorical approach to telling a ghost story could've made for an emotionally compelling film. The optimum word being could've. You see, this character is treated as a secondary even though the story, is his story. The connection to what's happening, on screen, is never there since the focus is placed on the other member's of the paranormal ghost team. What the director fails to realize is that these other characters aren't so much characters, but metaphors. The parallel being that the issues in the sole survivor's life takes away everything from him, one by one, so the other member's of the team die one by one.
The final nail, on the coffin, are the visuals. There's a scene in which darkness descends upon the principal location. During this scene, they use CGI effects. Some horror fans are against CGI, but I'm not. However, the CGI effects that are used look incredibly hokey. My question is WHY? Why did they not showcase darkness through lightening techniques? This would've been a more natural and convincing way to take on this scene. It also would've been far more cost efficient.
However, it doesn't only trickle down to the CGI effects, which are plentiful, and just as bad throughout, but also to the practical effects. There's a scene with a pit of blood or a ghost who appears donned in grey makeup. A pit of blood would've made for a horrifying set piece. Yet, the color palates are off. So off, that in the case of the pit of blood, it merely comes across as colored water vs blood. These are rather simple effects to apply, that any beginner should be able to get correct, yet Judas' Ghost manages to trip up on something rather rudimentary. Darkness, pits of blood, ghosts - all good ideas, that are botched in the technical execution.
There's one saving grace that stops this from being a total bomb and that comes in the form of Simon Merrells. He has a striking on camera presence, so striking in fact, that he has a big budget, leading man kind of quality. He reminds me of Jeremy Renner of Hurt Locker & Avengers fame. He has a star quality that's waiting to be utilized in better movies.
That sums up Judas Ghost in a nutshell. There's a star in Simon Merrells and a metaphorical approach to the ghost story formula, but they're in service of movie that doesn't understand its particular strengths or how to execute them. They're waiting to be utilized in a better movie. [Not Rated] 80 minutes.
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