A Town Full of Ghosts is about just that, an old western ghost town complete with malevolent ghosts, And unlike another recent film to use that idea, Teardrop, these are the more traditional ghosts, rather than human-appearing, and acting, specters haunting that ghost town.
The ghosts aren’t the only thing writer/director Isaac Rodriguez (Last Radio Call, Deadware) has taken back to its roots in A Town Full of Ghosts. After a prologue showing a couple coming to a bad end in the town’s maze we get a title card telling us “The Following Footage Was Recovered At The Abandoned Blackwoods Ghost Town”. For better or worse, this is an old-school found footage film.
Mark (Andrew C. Fisher, The Place We Hide, Seeing Each Other) and Jenna (Mandy Lee Rubio, Jurassic Tale, Sorrow) have just bought the ghost town known as Blackwoods. It’s three hours from anywhere and has no cell service or electricity but they plan to turn it into a tourist attraction with their YouTube channel helping to sell it to investors and the public. And with that in mind, we get a long guided tour of the town and a sales pitch for the project.
It’s not long after that that Mark sees something in the dark and their camera picks up some ghostly images. They apparently aren’t interested in their footage because they don’t notice them. Along with the ghosts, Mark’s cameraman cousin Justin (Ali Alkhafaji, Deadware, Last Radio Call) and his girlfriend Lisa (Lauren Lox, Tatted Souls, Baytown’s Finest) join them.
A few months back, I saw a YouTuber who sold everything and moved into a real ghost town in California. I wanted to use that basic idea with a married couple and add a The Shining vibe to it.Isaac Rodriguez
By this point, the problems with A Town Full of Ghosts are starting to show. The film runs about an hour plus credits, and by the half-hour mark, all we’ve gotten is a couple of ghosts and a lot of some very uninteresting, and rather annoying, characters walking around talking. The film’s biggest mystery up to this point is why Jenna, who is obviously not thrilled with Mark’s plans or the way he treats her, is still with him.
In the film’s press kit Rodriguez says he was inspired to make A Town Full of Ghosts after visiting the location. I get the feeling the script was thrown together quickly to take advantage of the location and shot with whatever he had in his wallet at the time.
Errors abound in the film as if it was rushed. For example, in the scene where a potential investor (Mike Dell, Flay, Inhumanity) backs out due to the town’s lack of electricity you can clearly see the electric lines a few feet away from the actors.
It’s only at this point, that A Town Full of Ghosts finally starts to resemble a horror movie. The couple is stuck there, they sold everything they had to buy the town, that Mark digs into Blackwoods’ history and finds out about its evil past. We see some of that history on some old newsreel footage and then in almost the next scene, Mark tells us the same story we just saw. It feels like padding, something an hour-long film shouldn’t need.
In its last fifteen minutes or so A Town Full of Ghosts tries to pile on some scares but it’s way too little and far too late for that. And, thanks to the film’s opening text, we know the characters’ fates which effectively kills almost any chance of suspense. It’s just a matter of waiting to see how they die, something I was hoping they’d do long before Mark grabs an axe and goes all Jack Torrance.
A Town Full of Ghosts feels like such a giant step backward from Last Radio Call that I wouldn’t be surprised to find out it had actually been shot years ago and shelved until now. It lacks all of that film’s atmosphere, inventive plotting, and scares and ends up being a waste of a good location and an hour of the viewer’s time.
A Town Full of Ghosts will be available on Digital platforms on June 17th. You can check the production company’s Facebook page for more details. If that isn’t quite what you wanted, FilmTagger can suggest something similar.