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Ghost Watch (1992)

  Tags: 90's, Brid Brennan, Cherise Wesson, Craig Charles, Ghost Watch, ghosts, Gillian Bevan, haunting, hidden gem, Lesley Manning, Michael Parkinson, Michelle Wesson, Mike Smith, mockumentary, Sarah Greene, uk, underrated

Your rating: None Average: 5.3 (3 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 
7

ghostwatch.jpg
Rating #: 
7/10
Director: 
Lesley Manning
Runtime: 
91 minutes
Cast: 
Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith, Craig Charles, Gillian Bevan, Brid Brennan, Michelle Wesson, Cherise Wesson


Before P.O.V. movies and mockumentary filmmaking took over mainstream cinema, there was a lesser known BBC movie that aired on the Halloween of '92. A movie that stirred so much controversy after its premiere, that numerous complaints and even supposed suicides were reported. That movie was Ghostwatch, a film that despite being advertised as a movie, was mistakenly thought of as an actual documentary. They brilliantly used real hosts and reporters to take part in it, which further confused the audience.

The premise behind this feature basically revolves around a family, who supposedly lives in one of the most "haunted homes" in the UK. We follow along as the female reporter and her camera crew spends the night at the house to see if there really is something going on there. We soon learn about the story of "Pipes," the ghost that haunts the home. He likes to bang on the walls at night and cause all kinds of trouble with the family. The spectral received the name after the mother kept trying to comfort her children about the sounds probably only being the pipes within the walls.

We also focus on the show's host, who sits along-side a paranormal expert as they take calls from the viewers and discuss what's going on with the family. This is where a lot of the small sub-plots and spooky ghost stories come in. The footage with the family was scripted and filmed, but the host and phone calls they received during this program were real; to an extent anyway. The number they put on-screen was an actual number for viewers to call and share their own ghost stories. Naturally many viewers thought everything with the family was happening live, so they'd phone in. When someone phoned the first thing they'd hear is something along the lines of "this is not real," so they'd know off-the-bat that there's nothing to worry about.

Combining fact with fiction, as well as fooling the audience in such a way that only Orson Welles with his War of the Worlds broadcast could do, makes this a unique and genre-inspiring effort. The "Pipes" ghost has a number of appearances in the background throughout the movie, which makes for fun, repeat viewings. According to writer, Stephen Volk, he subtlety appears on-screen eight times, four of which I was able to spot myself. The camera P.O.V. happenings with the family is pretty standard to what we've seen today, but alien for those watching at the time. Although I enjoyed the main focus with the family, it was the ghost stories told by callers that really sent shivers up my spine; especially given the fact that the calls were real.

We're given more background on "Pipes" and the home the family lives in from a couple callers within the show. Everything that had to do with the actual storyline was scripted, so those callers and people that appeared on the show were actors. The film is pretty slow-paced, but kept a foreboding and creepy atmosphere from the start. When the story was finally coming to a close, we're delivered a Blair Witch-esque climax (rumor that the filmmakers might've gotten the idea from this flick). Slow-paced for the most part, the ending of the film was surprisingly fast-paced and, to be honest, a little over-the-top. Either way, this proved to be an awe-inspiring effort for the genre and to this day still manages to give viewers the chills.

Although a bit tame compared to the standards of today's modern viewer, it still holds up some of the genuine creepiness that's rarely found in the genre. Shunned after its premiere, the feature has now reached cult status and has likely inspired a lot of the P.O.V. features and mockumentaries we watch today. Give this a check if you're looking for a creepy unconventional ghost story.

Posted on September 4, 2010 - 5:32pm | FrighT MasteR

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