More than a Ghost of a chance
Review: Ghost of the Needle
Reviews Editor & Online Producer
|Greg Thompson gets creepy in Ghost
of the Needle.
Okay, so you're at the video store, and the shelves are filled with cheesy horror movies. You know, the kind of flicks that are so bad they look like they were filmed by a couple of stoned college students with a consumer video camera and a bottle of ketchup. You ask yourself, how does crap like this get distribution?
Simple, horror sells. Especially in the direct to DVD market.
Which begs the question, why did it take so long for Ghost of the Needle to see the video shelves? And why hasn't it gotten more attention?
In a world of blood-n-guts horror flicks, this locally produced indie horror film is a delight to behold. It develops characters, it has an intriguing plot, a great score and best of all, it is beautifully shot.
Brian Avenet-Bradley (also writer and director) stars as Jacob, a reclusive photographer that has a dark secret. He lures young women to his studio, kills them with a lethal injection and takes their photos. Some fetish, huh?
But when Jacob lures Aimee (Cheri Christian) into his factory/studio/apartment, his plans go awry and she strikes back. After a tussle, Jacob manages to track her down and do his deed. Or does he? Then things start turning really weird. Jacob is haunted by the ghost of Aimee? Or maybe it's really her? Or maybe it's all in his head?
Prolific local actor Greg Thompson plays Jacob's weasely agent Richard, who's trying to set him up for a showing at a local philanthropist's mansion. As Richard says, Jacob's "days of being a starving artist will soon be over." But the philanthropist may not just be a patron of the arts. It seems he's hired Jacob to take a picture that intertwines both Aimee and his wife (Leigh Hill).
Ghost of the Needle works well because it is an independent film at its heart. It may be disguised as a horror movie, but on the inside it succeeds because it was shot as seriously as a film-festival drama.
Laurence Avenet-Bradley's cinematography is dynamic and exciting - perfect for a film about photography. The camera flows as part of the story and the lens really adds to the film, instead of distracting from it like most horror films.
The score by Mark Lee Fletcher only adds to the effectiveness of the visuals. It is an actual score, as opposed to many horror film's clichéd rock soundtrack and "got-ya" cues. But Fletcher also knows how to play the beats in the horror game, to add to the jumps.
The only thing that I feel lacking is in the acting department. The film features some of Atlanta's best actors, but many times the interaction between the characters feels stiff and staged. Other times, it comes off brilliantly. There is a consistency that just isn't there. This is especially true of the interaction between the secondary characters. It only happens a couple of times, but it is enough to bring you out of the moment.
Overall, however, Ghost of the Needle works on almost every level. It's not only a great local horror film, but a very well done film in general.
Michael D Friedman is an Atlanta screenwriter and filmmaker. He is a founder and co-president of the Atlanta Screenwriters Group.