Judas Ghost Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Directed by Simon Pearce
Written by Simon R. Greene
2013, 75 minutes, Not Rated
DVD and VOD released on December 1st, 2015
Martin Delaney as Jerry Mackay
Lucy Cudden as Anna Gilmour
Simon Merrells as Mark Vega
Alexander Perkins as Ian Calder
Considering how many awards Judas Ghost has won on the international film festival circuit it feels unpopular to have not enjoyed this movie, but its triumphs did not outweigh its problems.
Based on Simon R. Greene's novel series, Ghost Finders, Judas Ghost finds the Carnacki Institute – an organization promising to do something about your pesky ghost problem – sending it's crack team of ghost hunters into a meeting hall where children have been so disturbed by supernatural activity there they had to relocate to another building. Leader Jerry (Martin Delaney) is convinced they can handle whatever this spirit can throw at them, but when disgraced ghost hunter Mark (Simon Merrells) turns up as videographer he realizes more might be going on than he planned for. And it may well be more than he can handle.
The problems start witht the opening sequence. The credits are still rolling as we watch Jerry thrash around in blood, lights flicking between too bright and too dark, his expression frantic and terrified. This last for just a few seconds and then the pace grinds to a halt. Jerry saunters in, full of self-assurance and a this-is-beneath-me attitude that is off-putting from the start. Then psychic Anna (Lucy Cudden) saunters in, smug that she's better than Jerry at her job and dragging the pace further down. Both of these characters are unpleasant at first meeting and their redemptive moments don't come fast enough. We don't have a reason to be on their side and their survival never matters. The guidelines for their behavior is also muddy. Sometimes Jerry is cocky and sometimes he is scared. Anna is sometimes bold then cowering on the floor. A range is certainly understandable, but wild oscillation is less practical than revealing cracks in a facade when hope seems lost. In the end I have to wonder why would the world be better with these unlikeable people in it anway? Merrells is interesting as Mark, but he feels flailing in his role. He seems mired in his tragic past rather than fighting against it and no one likes to watch a pity party. Tech genius Ian (Alexander Perkins) has the comic relief part; unfortunatley his lines are so predictable they can't be funny.
Where Judas Ghost does succeed is using effects well despite its small budget. The use of darkness and the unknown hiding therein is spot on and creates genuine tension. While the revelation of the ghost makes the darkness less frightening, the effects continue to play on the demon and are really enjoyable.
With a little more innovation, Judas Ghost could have been akin to Torchwood in its heyday: A cocky leader who underneath does care a lot about his team and fears for them, quirky characters and funny dialogue mixed in with dangerous situations in a low budget setting. Where Judas Ghost fell short was the love, both between the characters, and evoking our love for them. As Anna puts it, “a spritual threat requires a spritiual response”, and we needed our spirits stirred just a little more.