Ghost Project (2023) Review
Ghost Project, also known as Side Project and Paranormal Encounters in the UK, begins with a trio of ghost hunters equipped with a device that looks like an old video camera crossed with one of the rifles from Aliens investigating a factory that was the scene of a deadly fire. They find quite a few ghosts who don’t seem too happy to be found, blinding Mike (Raymond E. Lee, What the Waters Left Behind: Scars, The Devil’s Tail) by making his glasses explode and dragging the other two into the darkness.
Brian (Juan Cruz Rolla, There Be Dragons, The Games Maker) recently lost his girlfriend Ellen (Camila Pizzo, Crystal Eyes, The One in Charge) in a car accident. Unable to deal with it, he uses VR to talk to an avatar of her. But since it can’t talk back, the result is creepy in all the wrong ways. While testing an improved version of his VR goggles in an old warehouse, he comes across the ghost detector we saw in the prologue, and of course he takes it.
Despite telling his friends Alice (Laura Casale, Lying in Waiting, Mete Miedo) and Sysop (Zhongbo Li Zhang, Héroe) that he’ll return it, he decides to see if he can use it to contact Ellen. Alice suggests testing it in her apartment, which she shares with a benign spirit. The results however are anything but harmless. Theorizing that the device angers the spirits somehow, they track Mike down looking for answers.
Ghost Project was written by Santiago Fernández Calvete who’s other credits include The Exorcism of God which I liked and A Taste of Blood which looked like it was good before its US distributor dubbed it and added several out-of-place songs to the soundtrack. He has an interesting central idea here, but really doesn’t do much with it, eventually resorting to having a ghost attack Alice with a power drill as if this was a slasher film.
Director Federico Finkielstain (The Silent Party, Love in the Time of Selfies) doesn’t seem to have any feel for the genre. His attempts at staging the film’s scare scenes look like they were copied from other films and recreated here, with a lack of feeling for them or any understanding of why they work. Glitchy video and distorted images aren’t scary by themselves, and Ghost Project lacks the setup and atmosphere to make them work, despite much of the final act taking place in an abandoned factory that should have been easy to make look scary.
Further complicating matters, IMDB lists Ghost Project as being made in the US, but it was obviously shot in Argentina with local performers acting in or badly dubbed into equally badly translated English. Brian has a British accent that appears and disappears like a ghost, and Alice has an accent that’s so thick it’s hard to understand her at times. Given how common subtitles have become, the filmmakers should have gone that route here.
When we see the film’s ghosts, it’s almost always via the machine or the app they develop to go with it, and they’re the standard vaguely looking human shapes caught on a video signal that looks like it will break up at any moment. The CGI is fairly good, but it’s so generic the images, with one exception, have no effect.
A distinct disappointment, Ghost Project seems overly long, even though it only lasts seventy-seven minutes. It’s all been done before, and done much better, which mean there’s no reason to subject yourself to this film.
Ghost Project is available on Digital Platforms via Uncorked Entertainment.