There are some different versions of the cover art for this movie, but this is the one I saw, so this’ll be the one you see. Hope it’s creepy!
(Original Title: Box of Shadows)
Released 2012/Rated R/Runtime: 91 mins.
Three dudes find a box that can turn ’em into ghosts.
This one sat on the shelves for a little while before I finally got to it…not for any real reason, I suppose, but The Ghostmaker just wasn’t one of those titles that made my mind grow limbs of its own that forced me to play the movie. I don’t know if that’s a US thing or not, but it seems like the title to every fucking movie I see nowadays just has to appeal to that lowest common denominator, which is what I feel might have happened here. Actually, you know what first came to mind when I saw the name for this movie?
He just raped someone, but it’s OK because, hey, he has candy!
So, just going into this thing, without the knowledge that this film actually once had the significantly cooler name of Box of Shadows, I felt the entire production already had one strike against it. And to SPOILER ALERT my own review, that’s the only strike this movie gets.
Here’s a quick synopsis that isn’t the snarky, douchesque one I left above: a group of friends, while moving the belongings of an old widow’s dearly departed, happen upon a cool-looking coffin. Instead of heeding her warning to burn the fuck out of it & forget it ever existed, these guys decide to progress the film’s plot instead, and then all sorts of ghost-y and demon-y shit happens. Blood, murder, oogity-boogity stuff: all the creepy stuff one wants in a horror flick makes its appearance, unless you like alien flicks or something. Far as I remember, there were no aliens…but you know what? Fuck aliens. I don’t like ’em & I’m sick of them in movies anyway. OK, back to the review…
…I really enjoyed The Ghostmaker, silly name aside. I’m a big fan of that particular kind of aesthetic & cinematography used in the film, reminiscent of something like a teenage favorite of mine, Brainscan. It’s glossy, but not plastic, refined but not so much so that it seems fake. And in giving nothing away, there’s a certain non-horror, all-drama scene shot in an RV that was heart-wrenching, and framed with absolute, miserable perfection.
I’ve never been much of one for keeping a list of the actors’ names in these movies, sorry to say. This is actually a good thing, though; usually, if I make a point to remember an actor or actress’s name, it’s because they were either unbearably bad or hot enough for me to have to…you know…stop the movie a couple of times.
Here, everyone was fine, even good. Across the board, every actor in this movie played their part really well. If they were to be sympathetic, they were. Creepy? Spot-on. Annoying? Perfect. And the range of experience our characters endure is never unbelievable. This is an indie production, and I was sure that a bunch of pros had just given me an excellent thesis presentation on pathos.
Plus, look at how blue this guy got! Word on the street is that he spent up to 7 hrs. every day being dead, just to prepare for this role. My hat’s off to you, sir.
As I mentioned before, this is an indie horror flick, but it’s honestly very hard to tell. For whatever budget (or lack thereof) these folks might’ve had, they spent it well and put together a little piece of horror that’s very often effective. I wasn’t scared out of my mind, but Van Helsing cost loads of cash to make, and that thing was a piece of shit. The Ghostmaker was ambitious but not delusional, and the whole movie shows that a decent script, some solid acting, and a group of folks with a bit of passion for the genre can combine to really go a long way.
If I go on much longer here, I’m just going to keep gushing about how much I liked this movie, to the point where I’m going to start telling wild-eyed lies about how Schindler came in and saved the Jews, or how this thing needs to win every Oscar ever made. It’s not perfect in that sense, and sure, the movie shows the youth behind its production. That said, it didn’t insult me with that youth. The Ghostmaker is a simple throwback of a horror flick with a lot of really nice embellishments in the storytelling, things that clearly show a lot of promise for the people involved.
I would give The Ghostmaker, if I had to put a specific score on it, a 65%. I know, in some states, that’s almost an “F” letter grade, but an “F” couldn’t be further from how I feel about the movie. It was fun, scary in parts, had a number of pretty strong issues that tied together well, and really put the somewhat outlandish subject matter to excellent use. It ultimately reminded me of the grown-up version of an episode of “Are You Afraid of The Dark?,” and considering how much I loved that show, I’d consider it a huge compliment. I hope we see more from director/co-writer Mauro Borrelli, writer Scott Svatos and the rest of the cast/crew in the future, because I ended up really enjoying this flick that I’d originally turned on because I thought it would put me to sleep.