Stream Queen: ghosts gone wrong

Not your everyday haunted house movies…unfortunately. These three ghost movies are ultimately disappointing in their attempts to be unique rather than to just serve up some good old scares.

ALTERGEIST (2014)

altergeist cover

When will I learn to just stop watching movies about ghost hunting camera crews? It’s not found footage this time, but a messy mashup of cheesy ghost story, supernatural slasher, and…alien sci-fi film?

A ghost hunting crew heads to a haunted winery. The most familiar face in the group is Brendan Fletcher (Freddy vs. Jason, Leprechaun: Origins, Alone in the Dark, Ginger Snaps 2 & Snaps Back).

altergeist brendan

The group does a lot of roaming around and calling for ghosts. There are glimpses of a girl apparition using that cheesy hologram ghost effect. Then the kills begin.

altergeist ghost

One person is supernaturally controlled to commit suicide. The ghost girl stabs someone to death with her ghost knife. Another person is supernaturally controlled into killing someone else. The ghost starts chasing people. There are shooting balls of light. There’s some sort of alien woman.

I just can’t.

TRACE (2015)

trace cover

After an absolutely pointless intro scene about the Soviet Union’s experiments with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) up until 1992, Trace is Final Destination meets Ouija.

We meet kids hanging out and drinking. They fall into conversation about EVP, one kid who knows all about it explains what it is (hence, the pointlessness of the first scene), and then they head down into his conveniently located basement recording studio to try it out. I did get a giggle when one guy says, “Can we ask what the fuck the ending of Lost meant?”

trace studio

The demonic voice they record provides them with a list of their names. They begin dying in the order of the list. No real splatter here. The kids are simply instructed to kill themselves by the demonic voice. The cute lead kid, played by Nick Fink, who auditioned for American Idol once and played a Warbler on a few episodes of Glee, reaches out to an online expert on EVP and they Facetime a lot to try to figure out what’s going on (aka: the film gets really boring).

trace nick

FINALLY, after an hour and five minutes, one of the girls has a “Lights Out” moment when she sees a freaky silhouette of a demon every time she turns out the light. Following a few more kills, things get kind of Cry Wolf, and then we at last see the demon.

trace demon

At this point, I couldn’t help thinking this last moment reveal would have been much better utilized as the zinger ending of a 5-minute short rather than a 95-minute way-too-long.

THE INHABITANTS (2015)

inhabitants cover

I was so into the initial simple, throwback haunted house movie vibe of The Inhabitants. A couple moves into what was once a bed & breakfast and immediately notices some strange things, particularly a heinous looking chair left behind that has stains around a hole in the seat…right where a person’s crotch would be. The wife gets some information from the library about the history of the house, including tales of witchcraft back in the 1600s.

Suddenly, the husband has to go away on business. Oh shit. That’s never good. The wife begins hearing creaking floors, slamming doors, gets a call that appears to be coming from another extension in the house…and has a freakish encounter with something in the washing machine. The creepy, slow burn vibe and tense atmosphere is perfect and I was hooked.

Then the entire movie changes. The wife has an encounter, and the husband returns to find her acting totally different. Like, so different for so long that it’s kind of ridiculous that the husband doesn’t just burst out with, “Bitch, I’ve been gone for a week and this is the welcome home I get? What the fuck is with you?”

inhabitants scissors

This is when the movie goes off on numerous tangents. To deliver a body count, three local kids sneak into the infamous house for thrills, meet a bad end, and are never mentioned again. There’s also a shift to the husband’s perspective as he tries to determine what the hell is going on in his new house. He finds an entire room of monitors with live feed of the house—that’s still on.

inhabitants monitor

Rather than, you know, go to the police, he uses it to watch his wife. All she’s doing by now is walking around like a female ghost in any modern horror movie—pale, dressed in white, with a zombie-esque face. On top of that, the witch angle is tossed back into the film.

inhabitants ghost

The climax adds some cheap thrills and chills, but everything that was introduced from the point at which the plot fractured never comes together, leaving a mess of loose ends. Bummer.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES.

I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.

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