Found footage that bets it all on realism.
The Blackwell Ghost is so realistic and gritty that it doesn’t even have an IMDB page. No, really, go look it up.
The film is a fake documentary (more on the fake part later) about a filmmaker who decides to explore whether or not ghosts are real. Since he is a filmmaker he can recognize camera tricks and what knot, so he wants to determine once and for all if there is any such thing as the paranormal. Of course, once he begins his investigation things start occurring that cannot be explained.
I am willing to bet that sounds like just about every other docu-horror out there. There is nothing wrong with this genre, but this one goes over the top on claiming it is authentic. Frequently, our lead (I can’t remember his name—something that IMDB usually helps with…) reminds us that this is a real documentary and he is just a genuine dude doing research.
The major problem with this sort of structure is that the film is daring you to not believe in it. Look, it’s a horror movie, we will let go of our assumptions to enjoy the experience. The constant reminders that this is real just reminded me that I was watching a movie, which made it hard to enjoy. You might think this is a gimmick (it is) and that a lot of horror films do this lately (they do), but this is one of the few that breaks the fourth wall so often. Maybe it won’t annoy you as much, but it just pulled me out of it every time it came up.
This is a cheap found footage film. Seriously, emphasize the cheap part of that last sentence. The set designs and cameras don’t provide the best cinematic experience, but that kind of works here. Despite the jarring moments, the host is actually quite likable. The banter between he and his wife as they stay at a supposedly haunted house. The characters and dialogue feel authentic, and this is a major plus to the film.
The scares are all subtle, and this is a nice change from the amped up haunted house narratives we usually see. In a lot of ways this is like one of those ghost hunting shows, but without the annoying hosts. If you like the found footage style haunted house stories, then this will be right up your alley.
A sometimes jarring host, lengthy epilogue, and an odd conclusion are the weak points. Unfortunately, I don’t want to to discuss the final act here, but I will say that the characters drop their likable demeanors in favor of normative horror-film clichés. The content of the conclusion isn’t the problem, it is the way it is acted.
Overall, we have a simple and straightforward story. The running time is only about an hour, which makes the boring parts even more inexplicable. I think if you go in knowing what to expect the film can be entertaining. 5.5/10