Judas Ghost Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
DVD released by Bulldog Film Distribution
Directed by Simon Pearce
Written by Simon R. Greene
2013, 75 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 20th April 2015
Martin Delaney as Jerry Mackay
Lucy Cudden as Anna Gilmour
Simon Merrells as Mark Vega
Alexander Perkins as Ian Calder
Grahame Fox as Judas Ghost
New York Times bestselling author Simon R.Green's Ghost Finders book series is based on a fictitious group called the Carnacki Institute that investigates and vanquishes ghosts. Living by the motto 'We don't take any shit from the hereafter', the success of the series displayed huge potential so it wasn't a major surprise to see the literary expert take the leap and direct his very own cinematic adaptation. Judas Ghost is the Brit's independent feature debut that tackles a particularly intense haunting. Although it carries a weighty sense of horror, it feels too bogged down by well-trodden clichés and stereotypes to create anything memorable. Even though plausible efforts are made to showcase an understanding of poltergeists, demonic possessions and other familiar ghostly episodes, the narrative fails to capture the imagination and get the senses racing.
When reports of a haunting at a derelict village hall surface, an elite squad of four ghost hunters are dispatched from the Carnacki Institute to investigate. An episode that begins as a trivial case soon transcends into an occult disturbance that shatters the dividing line between the living and the dead. The group of experts led by Jerry Mackay is put through its paces by a sinister force. As the apparitions become more grotesque, so do the inner workings of the four protagonists; the tech nerd (Alexander Perkins), the skeptic harbouring a secret (Mark Vega) and the psychic damsel-in-distress (Anna Gilmour). Each has their frailties that are iteratively exposed in a concise 75 minute running time.
There's no doubting that the lost soul, Judas Ghost, played brilliantly by Grahame Fox is a disturbing villain. The distinctive appearance of the damned spirt is memorable; a suit-clad, pale white ghost with bleeding eyes torments the group with voracity. The demonic backdrop and circle of protection scenario offer a springboard for a barrage of misfiring CGI. Despite the technical glitches, the injection of violence offers a startling shift in tonality. The pool of blood sequence is harrowing and perhaps the most affecting scene in the film.
Often referential to classic ghostly elements, Judas Ghost is on the borderline of being another carbon copy of the typical paranormal ghost study. While the scientific exploration of ghostly phenomena is part and parcel of the technological age in which we live, its centrality to horror narrative is wholly unwelcome. The terror is in the unknown, the unquantifiable. Not in the measurement of it. Judas Ghost quite rightly displays this but feels ruefully formulaic and sticks to a method that has been tried and tested.