Reviews: Judas Ghost

Andrew reviews the ghost hunting thriller Judas Ghost.

Step into the ring!

The new British ghost hunting crossbreed of Grave Encounters, Cube, Insidious, Poltergeist, The Exorcist and Playstation 2 video game Silent Hill 4: The Room of all things is very much the derivative CW Entertainment level mishmash it sounds like.  Breaking the totality of the first person POV approach utilized in Grave Encounters with a textbook filmmaking style perfectly suited for after school television, Judas Ghost is familiar horror movie ground replete with nods to everything from Evil Dead II replete with the river of blood bursting from the cellar door to possessed Ash's eyes going white Deadite style.  At first it's kinda cool to see the four person ensemble cast investigating a haunted house with three confident spiritual warriors banding together against the bald headed avatar on the amaray case for Silent Hill 4.  As time presses on for Judas Ghost however, the shoestring budgeted CGI effects and done to death tropes playing themselves out tend to work against the film's acting merits and brilliantly minimalist premise.  Like Vincenzo Natali's Cube the confines of the ensemble cast being trapped inside one room with God knows what beyond the other side of the walls works beautifully, but Judas Ghost gives us answers to the mysteries best kept secret in Cube and the end result is disappointing.

That said, Judas Ghost does have a fair amount of positives to it which help to separate it from the pack.  There's a reasonable amount of self-aware humor coming from the cast, notably it's lead spiritual warrior Jerry Mackay (Martin Delaney from Flags of Our Fathers and Zero Dark Thirty) with more than a few sarcastic quips up his sleeve at the site of the supernatural.  We also have a sexy red-headed medium named Anna Gilmour (Lucy Cudden), surveillance video technician Ian Calder (Alexander Perkins) and fellow warrior Mark Vega (Simon Merrells) going toe to toe with the infinite darkness.  One of the nice things about Judas Ghost is that as far as it's characters are concerned it manages to avoid the usual stereotypes associated with these ghost hunting movies.  Instead of the usual skeptics who got more than they bargained for with Grave Encounters, we get fully prepared protagonists who take the otherworldly dimensions seriously.  As with Grave Encounters, the environment begins to change as ghostly forces from beyond infiltrate the premises with doors disappearing and reappearing, disembodied voices and darkness assimilating the room itself.  There's even a moment where a character reaches into the black void with squishy oily sounds permeating the soundtrack and I couldn't help but think of the gateway dividing our world from the next in Event Horizon.

Gimme a kiss!
By the end of this review, I've probably made Judas Ghost sound pretty average and played out.  While it is no doubt underwhelming overall, it managed to hold my interest for two hours.  It's best moments involve the foursome huddling around a protective circle drawn on the floor to keep demonic forces on the other side as darkness closes in.  When the final showdowns and payoffs come, however, it's like a cornball Playstation One era of CGI visual effects unleashed from the diarrhetic bowels of the SyFy Channel.  They're really that badly rendered and manage to rival even the worst of Asylum Entertainment's effects library.  The less you see the better and the scenes which played on our imagination managed to be creepy, for a little while anyway.  Judas Ghost also sports the usual over reliance on loud sound effects to promote startling jump scares which last only for a moment before Judas Ghost becomes a moribund exercise yet again.  At best the charisma of the cast keeps you going through it, waiting for something to happen.  Like most channel surfing fodder on late night cable TV though, you half watch it before moving onto more interesting things as you forget about it. 


-Andrew Kotwicki

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