The Blackwell Ghost is a clever little fictional horror movie released in 2017. The Blackwell Ghost is a documentary that finally captures actual footage of a real haunting. Two differing statements. Which one is true? I honestly don’t know.
Okay that isn’t entirely true. I do know, but, at the time the movie ended, I wasn’t certain. Now not being certain isn’t the same as what you believe. I finished the film absolutely sure that The Blackwell Ghost is a very, very cleverly put together “found footage” movie. I was right, but the fact they made me unsure shows how intelligently made it all was.
The Blackwell Ghost is similar to another film in a couple ways. That film is called The Phoenix Tapes ’97 and deals with an apparently true alien abduction. One similarity both of these films have is that they have spawned an almost cult like following of fans/nutters who believe them to be true and not works of fiction. The other similarity and the most telling is that they both star the same person.
Now we don’t actually know for certain who that person is as in both films, the cast and crew are completely anonymous. I guess this adds to the illusion. Even checking out the film on iMDB will offer you know clues as to who there people are.
The Blackwell Ghost is presented as a documentary filmed by an unknown man who is introduced as a film director of “a zombie movie”. He makes it pretty clear that he expects to find none as he is not a believer. He then comes across a video of apparent paranormal activity at a hotel on YouTube. Cleverly, this video actually exists on YouTube as it was likely posted by the film makers. You can see it here. It has garnered over 11 million views so far which is pretty amazing and again shows the deep level of thought and planning in executing this movie.
That project comes to nothing though and we skip forward a couple years to a new project. A haunted house. Keen to restart his paranormal activity project, our director reaches out to the hotel owner and arranges to go there and meet him. The house is in Pennsylvania and the owner is called Greg. Our film maker convinces his wife to tag along and they head off to the haunted house. Again adding to the realism, our director and his wife fly there in their own small plane. It kind of adds to the realism as it is all shot with hand and head cams and you think, well, an actor wouldn’t necessarily have a pilot licence would he?
They arrive with Greg who is more than happy to regale them with tales of the multiple unexplainable happenings he faces nightly. Our film maker is excited, his wife, less so but she plays along. Nothing much happens then, a few knocks and the lie, and the team return home in their plane. Not long after, Greg extends an invite to them to come and stay at the house while he goes away on business. Our guy eagerly accepts and drags his compliant lady along with him. By now we are also getting an idea of the history of the house which, without giving too much away, once housed a very dangerous woman. A Lady Ruth Blackwell.
They get their camera’s set up and prepare for a couple nights of activity and they get it, subtly at first but soon enough our film maker is regretting his change of career.
Once you satisfy yourself that you are watching a film instead of a documentary you will realise that The Blackwell Ghost is nothing new. Cleverly put together, absolutely, but with the same old plot you have seen many, many times before. That doesn’t make it bad though. It isn’t. See here they take that same old plot but treat it respectfully and make a good film out of it.
At just about an hour long, it doesn’t over stay it’s welcome. Even though it is short, they don’t rush the story and try to jump scare the pants off of you. Instead they allow atmosphere to creep in with plenty of back story before a few subtle moments. These eventually build into something bigger but right at the end.
The filming is solid with no issues regarding jumpy or overly dark cameras but then he is a director right? The effects are subtle, with orbs and shadows and the like – similar to what you see on television with shows like Ghost Hunters. You get a bit of background music but then the film maker has stated he is making a documentary so maybe it should be expected. The acting is solid. Greg is believable as the home owner and our main guy is believable in his story about being a director and wannabe ghost hunter. An actor acting at not being an actor. His wife, I find less believable. Her lines come across a little too obvious and unnatural.
Considering I don’t know who they are, and there is no credit sequence either, they are all fine. None of the acting detracts from the story in any way. The lack of credits again adding to the “it’s all real” illusion. The only real negative for me was the big ending which I think went a little too far. If that had been reigned back in a bit, I may have believed it more. All the subtlety was lost in a short moment where you end up thinking, now that can’t be real. Hell, if that had happened and been caught on camera it would be front page of every newspaper in the world.
A minor, but important, error in what is a very clever, well made found footage movie. A mostly wonderful job done from all involved. The Blackwell Ghost is an old story but told well and with a few little twists to keep your mind just wondering, well, what if it is real? Well worth a watch.
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The Blackwell Ghost (2017)