Ghost Webcam (2023) Review
Ghost Webcam, the debut feature from director Sebastian Dove and writer, Gabriel Molnar is the latest browser-based horror film. People tend to think of video chat horror films as a subgenre that developed during COVID lockdowns. Actually, they date back at least to 2016 and the film E-Demon. If you want to stretch things a bit you could even go back to films like Feardotcom in 2002. In any case, given how inexpensive they are to film, they won’t be going away anytime soon.
Nate (Emonjay Brown, A Short Film About Purgatory, Bompton Had a Dream) and Mia (Cassandra Due, My Neighbor Barry, Wide Eyes) matched on a dating site and are following it up with a video chat. That’s because Nate can’t actually go on a date with her, he’s under house arrest pending trial for something that could get him several years in jail.
The conversation has an odd feel to it as if Mia is needling him, trying to provoke an outburst of some kind. The conversation eventually turns to ghosts and she sends him a link to a site that live streams from an allegedly haunted room. Then Mia claims to hear something in her apartment and is apparently killed, a message in blood appearing on her bedroom wall. Panicking, Nate reaches out to his friends for help.
Running one hour and one minute, Ghost Webcam is, as Dove says, a microbudget film. Keep that in mind as there isn’t much in the way of effects, and what we do get is fairly basic. But that’s a better approach than trying for too much and ending up with effects that look like they were imported from a Super Nintendo game.
Instead of being driven by effects Ghost Webcam functions more like a mystery as the characters try to find out if what they’re seeing is real or some kind of elaborate hoax. At one point they find a phone number but it leads to the house’s former owner Stan (Nicholas Thurkettle, A Ghost Waits, Deany Bean is Dead). The information he provides takes the search in another direction even as the ghost starts leaving messages for another member of the group.
Molnar manages to work a few twists into the script to keep things interesting despite the lack of effects. Not just in terms of the ghostly goings-on, but in terms of Nate’s upcoming case, even working the prosecutor (Michael Jon Murphy, Bearry, Prey, in Cold Blood) into the plot. Between that, the opinions, various characters express and the film’s short running time Ghost Webcam doesn’t drag despite almost all of it consisting of talking heads on a monitor.
Unfortunately, Ghost Webcam doesn’t quite manage to pull it all off and ends on a note that left me feeling unsatisfied. It’s too bad because it felt like it was going to take its plot somewhere I hadn’t seen before. Instead, it opts for something that while it’s not bad or something out of left field, is more conventional than I expected.
Despite that, there’s still a lot to like about Ghost Webcam. The characters are relatable if not always likable and the performances are believable. Combines with the script it’s an enjoyable ride with a few tense moments, a couple of jumps and a couple of laughs. Considering how dull some of these shot on video chat films have been, this is a promising debut.
ITN has released Ghost Webcam and it’s available to watch on Tubi in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand & Mexico. It’s free and only an hour long so you’re not risking a lot by checking it out. Just don’t chat with anyone while you do.