Ghosts Don't Exist Movie Review
Written by Chris Shamburger
DVD released by Echo Bridge Entertainment
Written and directed by Eric Espejo
2010, 100 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on September 7th, 2010
Phillip Roebuck as Brett Wilson
Devon Marie Burt as Jennifer Hughes
Joe Hansard as Travis Garner
Josh Davidson as David Sherman
Frederick Cowie as Ritchie Lyons
Ted Taylor as Kurt Wilson
Katie Foster as Nicole Wilson
Chris Cooley as Deputy Dan
Chris Kennedy as Sheriff Fuller
Ghosts Don't Exist debuted on DVD on September 7th, 2010 with a price tag of just $6.99. Anyone who frequently purchases new release titles certainly won't need someone like me telling them how cheap that is. And while it's refreshing to see such a low price for something new to the market, buyers — myself included — will typically avoid taking the opportunity to indulge themselves because they relate the DVD's price to the quality of the film. So can an extremely low price, like the one attached to Ghosts Don't Exist, be a disservice to the product? I certainly hope not.
Phillip Roebuck stars as Brett Wilson, a paranormal investigator with his own television show. When his wife, Nicole (Katie Foster), dies during childbirth, a guilt-ridden Brett begins to question his belief in the afterlife and announces his retirement. But producers aren't too happy about this change and threaten to sue if Brett doesn't give them a series finale. Enter Travis Garner (Joe Hansard), who may have a way out. "I need you to take one last case," Travis explains over the phone. "I've seen Nicole."
Brett and his assistant Jennifer (Devon Marie Burt), cameraman Ritchie (Frederick Cowie), and disbeliever David (Josh Davidson) tag along to Travis's secluded house for the filming of Brett's final moment as a paranormal investigator — and possibly his life.
The interesting thing about Ghosts Don't Exist is that a majority of the people behind it have already made names for themselves, but outside of the film industry. And while they may not quite hit a homerun their first time at bat, they certainly don't come off as amateurs. One of the film's most prominent executive producers is Chris Cooley, a tight end for the Washington Redskins. Along with Cooley, a host of other celebrity Washingtonians makes appearances. NBC4 reporter Lindsay Czarniak has a small role as a television interviewer. Mike O'Meara (from "The Mike O'Meara Show") shows up as a network executive. Cooley himself has a cameo as a true-to-form deputy, and NFL free agent Todd Yoder tags along as Cooley's sidekick.
Even the actors taking on the leading roles do an admirable job. Phillip Roebuck is especially good as Brett, playing the part of a torn, emotionally unstable man with a quiet intensity. Devon Marie Burt and Frederick Cowie are believable in their roles, and Josh Davidson (who should probably consider doing animated films with that voice of his) sticks out in a good way. The best performance comes from Joe Hansard, who steals the show early on and remains a strong presence throughout.
The story isn't creative by a long shot, but it's the simplicity behind it that makes the film so interesting and effective. There are some legitimately creepy scenes when the ghost hunters get to Travis's house (my favorite moment comes in the basement), and together, writer/director Eric Espejo and cinematographer Kunitaro Ohi give the film plenty of atmosphere, making even the dialogue-driven scenes feel at least a little threatening. James T. Sale brings all of this together with an absolutely phenomenal score — one that I think is better than the material it was made for. If the film had a soundtrack, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
The problem with Ghosts Don't Exist is one I unfortunately see in many independent films — poor focus. There are subplots involving Brett's father (Ted Taylor) and a couple of police officers (Chris Kennedy as the sheriff and Chris Cooley as his deputy) that are more distracting than anything else. At 100 minutes, these are the moments that make the film longer than it should be — and less engaging.
Still, even with its bloated runtime, the talent and care given to this film is incontrovertible. This is a movie made for the love of filmmaking, and maybe it takes amateurs not expecting the paycheck to show the professionals how it's done.
Video, Audio and Special features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.