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Ghost Machine (2009)
9th Apr 10
Boys just wanna have fun
Review Ghost Machine arrived in the post with promotional blurb that made it sound like a dozen other rentals out there already on release with the recent Gamer springing immediately to mind. The idea of watching yet another flick where characters enter into a virtual gaming reality had all the appeal of sitting through another series of TV's Big Brother.
As the plot played out past the introductory first few minutes, one becomes surprised to find themselves sitting up and taking notice. What surprises is how slick Ghost Machine is despite the lack of a huge budget and that it rattles along at a pace that ensures that you don't have time to think too hard about any of the daft twists the plot undertakes as it reaches its climax.
Ghost Machine opens with a test simulation of the software our gamers are about to steal for recreational use. The software has been designed to give soldiers an idea of what it's like to be in a combat situation. However, one of our two lead technicians has other plans for it.
After setting up the equipment and plonking a vast number of cameras about the walls of the derelict prison building. The gamers have chosen a virtual reality version of the building to be drawn up as their base. Not only that but the software can create military uniforms and weapons for them to use within this unreal environment.
Very quickly it becomes apparent that the guys are not alone in this set-up. They have with them a female ghost whose agenda is not about game playing but getting revenge. She's the spirit of a suspected terrorist who just happened to have been tortured to death in this very facility and boy is she hacked off.
In terms of the performances there's little here to complain about with all managing to do well playing second best to the concept which is the main thrust here. Richard Dormer stands out as Taggart, the real meanie of the piece, whose bullying of the token female eye candy Jess (Rachael Taylor from Shutter) leads him to discovering top secret information has been stolen. Elsewhere Sean Faris as Tom, the main technician with a secret agenda, performs well given he's limited to being sat down looking at monitors for most of the movie.
Director Chris Hartwill knows his movie is not high art and never intends it as such playing to its limitations and ensuring there's enough consistently happening so as to hurry over its faults.
The special effects work wouldn't trouble the budget of TV's Doctor Who and the ghost never seems in too much of a hurry to dispatch her victims, always lurking around in the background rather than just go in for a clean kill.
With there being little in the way of character empathy Ghost Machine instead earns points for taking the time to build up the situation rather than having characters dispatched from the start. The location is suitably creepy and adds atmosphere which could have otherwise been lacking.
This is big dumb fun aimed pretty much just at the boy's. Ghost Machine makes for a fun but forgettable rental so do as the characters do in the movie, get some beer in, sit back and switch off and enjoy!
Extras on the disc include a Making of which is mainly behind the scenes footage looking at shots being set up cut into clips of the main actors being interviewed, all of whom rather boringly have nothing but praise for everyone else on the film. The Making of feels chucked together rather than assembled with the sound quality at best variable and really rather irritating. There is also a fifteen minute interview with writer Sven Hughes, chunks of which already exist in the Making of feature making this inclusion somewhat redundant.