The Movie Waffler New Release Review - JUDAS GHOST (VOD) | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - JUDAS GHOST (VOD)

A group of ghost-hunters investigate a haunted village hall.

Review by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Directed by: Simon Pearce

Starring: Martin Delaney, Lucy Cudden, Simon Merrells, Alexander Perkins, Grahame Fox

This is a film that is energetic and eerie, enticing us with its well drawn characters and striking way with a spooky image. It’s well worth a few pieces of your silver.

As the portentous voiceover that opens Judas Ghost informs us, ‘Ghosts are everywhere, whether you choose to believe in them or not…’, and, furthermore, that some spectres are ‘here to hurt us’- yikes! But such apparent supernatural danger isn’t enough to deter Judas Ghost’s plucky team of paranormal investigators from setting up in a weird village hall - all long gothic windows, murky corners and weird kiddy scribblings on the walls (‘why don’t ghosts ever haunt anywhere nice’, one of the team reasonably remarks) - in order to put together a training video for aspiring ghost hunters. Our group are a typically ragtag bunch; Jerry (Martin Delaney) plays the arrogant front man, Anna (Lucy Cudden) is a glam medium, Ian (Alexander Perkins) the techie dude, and Mark (Simon Merrells) a camera man with a terrible secret. And as the team set up, with their (witty) banter perceived through the hand held frame of Mark’s camera, you can’t help wondering that if ghosts do exist, then must they be forever filmed within the medium of found footage, the initial stylistic mode of Judas Ghost? Yet as the film continues, Judas Ghost gives us its first surprise: the found footage element is just that, a feature of the film, an aspect employed sparingly to better tell the story. And the film’s second surprise is that, despite the unpromisingly daft opening voiceover, and the humble production values, Judas Ghost is really rather good, and one of my favourite ghost stories of the year.
Things get going in Judas Ghost pretty quickly, with Jerry pointing out the kids’ drawings of demons on the wall (which, unintentionally, look hilariously like hung over Pac-Mans), and Anna picking up immediately on the physic weirdness of the hall. There’s never any question of the paranormal being a fact of life in this film, no tedious little so and so protesting that ‘wait, there has to be a logical explanation for all of this!’ Judas Ghost’s tight, focussed script wastes no time with such hoary conventions. The team’s experience is proven through an early montage of previous adventures, ranging from funny to scary and then downright disturbing (and also offers practical advice such as the way to get rid of a poltergeist - identify the ‘trigger’ family member, and remove them from the location. Good to know). Before we know it, we’re on to the business of the team discovering the Judas Ghost itself, and, as the menace that lurks beneath the floorboards finds its way out, the real reason they’ve been sent to this particular village hall.
Other reviews of Judas Ghost have suggested that the movie is more akin to a filmed stage play, rather than a cinematic experience. While this may be true in the sense that the action is almost entirely restricted to the boxy hall (Why can’t they leave? Because the ghost, brilliantly, makes the door disappear!), and the script fluent with character based interaction and dialogue, it is nonetheless unfair to Simon Pearce’s direction and editing, which makes the most of Roger Pearce’s spirited, resourceful camera. This is a film that is energetic and eerie, enticing us with its well drawn characters and striking way with a spooky image.
What seems initially like dickishness from Jerry soon transpires to be so much bravado, a front against the supernatural potential he understands all too well, and which manifests itself in resourceful and interesting ways. And while it is arguable that the plot enigmas that Judas Ghost carefully sets up are not completely satisfied, the film makes up for its loose ends with its believably creepy atmosphere.
Judas Ghost is available on VOD now. It’s well worth a few pieces of your silver.
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