The Ghostmaker is an effects-driven Supernatural Horror movie. Starring Aaron Dean Eisenberg,Liz Fenning, J. Walter Holland, Jared Grey, Domiziano Arcangeli, and Jeffrey Damnit, The Ghostmaker (produced under the title Box of Shadows) was written and directed by Mauro Borrelli.
The comic-book aesthetic is no accident as Borrelli is best known as an artist/illustrator who worked on The Wolfman and The Last Airbender.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: The Ghostmaker centers around a group of college friends, who discover a 15th century coffin that allows them to experience the world as ghosts. While their first adventures in the spirit world are playful and innocent, the “Box of Shadows” soon brings out the group’s most dangerous impulses and desires. The friends find themselves pulled into a world of evil where they learn the line between life and death is there for a reason.
Kyle works for a cleaning service. He finds an expensive looking antique coffin while emptying out an apartment. The creepy old lady who lives there wants Kyle to take the coffin to the dump and “watch them burry it”. He agrees, but Kyle is a lying meth-head who sees the curio as a potential means for raising some quick cash. He takes it home and, while cleaning it out, Kyle discovers complex clockwork machinery beneath the head-rest. Wind it up and a galaxy of cogs and gears whirl and wiz to the sound of a creepy music box as a blue electrical currents reach out like tentacles
Kyle’s college homie Platt is a smart cat played by Jared Grey (who resembles a young Harold Ramis, may he Rest in Peace); he finds some rare books that shed light on the coffin’s purpose and origins. Created by someone described as an “Evil Leonardo Da Vinci” and “The Devil’s Craftsman”, the coffin (or Geist Machina, the “Ghost Machine”) is a mystical metaphysical device designed to bring a living soul to the threshold of death.
Whatever purpose The Devil’s Craftsman had in mind for the Ghost Machine, Kyle and his roommate Sutton are ridiculously short sighted in their aspirations. They could be super-heroes or crime-stoppers with ghostly powers, but Kyle just wants drugs and Sutton wants to have spirit sex with Kyle’s girlfriend, Julie. What a waste.
But I suppose that’s kind of the point, after all. The Ghost Machine seems to amplify the worst, most selfish desires of its user. It also seems as addictive as the meth Kyle’s constantly puffing. It soon becomes clear that the coffin is a metaphore for drugs and addiction: Even though you know it’s killing you, you just can’t stop using.
In addition to physical deterioration, those who experiment with the Ghost Machine soon find themselves pursued by a clockwork Grim Reaper, a mechanized manifestation of Death itself.
The Ghostmaker looks great, filmed entirely through a cool blue filter, giving it an otherworldly hue. When Kyle and his friends become “ghosts” they glow beneath a shroud of blue smoke and tiny floating orbs—their eyes are solid white with black pupils—very psychedelic. The Grim Reaper has a grizzly steam-punk aesthetic that I found both interesting and visually pleasing.
If I have to nit-pick, I’d say The Ghostmaker fails in its unrealistic portrayal of meth-heads. I don’t know if the problem is in the writing or in the acting, but Kyle does not convey any of the telltale signs of amphetamine addiction; he’s fit and muscular with glowing skin and a mellow disposition. He doesn’t tremble or motor-mouth, and even seems able to sleep while high. His dealers are sleazy, but also unrealistic sporting fabulous hair and eye make-up. The only one in the entire movie who looks remotely like a speed-freak is toothpick-thin Julie (Liz Fenning) who looks like she weighs all of 70 pounds.
On a positive note, The Ghostmaker feels reminiscent of stylized films from the 1990’s like Flatliners, The Hollow Man, and Final Destination. There’s not much gore; in fact, this film probably would have been rated PG-13 except for the boobs and the drug use. Another good one that Horror aficionados can enjoy along side more mainstream cinema fans.
3 out of 5 Coffins.