Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review: I AM A GHOST

I Am a Ghost is one of those rare ghost stories that's told from the perspective of the one haunting the house, rather than those being haunted.

Anna Ishida is Emily, a woman from a seemingly Victorian time stuck in a loop. She keeps reliving the same random events every day, and she also finds herself communicating with a medium she can not see, named Sylvia. 

Emily died in the house she haunts, and Sylvia is trying to get her to move on--but it's not quite working, and neither woman can figure out why.

To say any more would spoil the film, so that's all you need to know. The less you know, the more effective this film is.

I Am a Ghost is a slow-burn, reminiscent of Ti West's House of the Devil, which also features a female character trapped in a spooky old house, slowly building towards a frightening climax.

This is essentially a one-woman show, and Anna Ishida does a fine job of carrying the film. She's not as polished as a "Hollywood actress", but this helps with the out-of-time nature of the character. 

Again, this is a slow-burn of a movie; some people may lose patience after seeing Emily cook the same two eggs for the fifth time, but the build up is worth it. When the horror finally kicks in, it's all the more effective.

It always helps to have a good setting for your film, especially if your film is of a lower-budget, and the old house in I Am a Ghost is perfect. It's clearly a real house--not a set--adding realism and a nicely preserved historical look. Director H.P. Mendoza employees a few nifty tricks to keep the mostly quiet movie engaging; for one thing, the film itself is presented in a frame reminiscent of an old photograph, with rounded edges. Split-screens and washed-out colors help with atmosphere and actually contribute to the film, rather than just feeling like they were added to "look cool."

If there's one complaint I have with the film, it's the (vocal) performance of Jeannie Barroga, as the psychic Sylvia. Never seen and only heard, Barroga's line-delivery feels very flat, almost as if she's just reading her lines off a piece of paper into a microphone, and not putting much feeling into them. But that's not enough of a problem to derail the movie. 

At 74 minutes, I Am a Ghost never over-stays its welcome. It knows just when to end, and doesn't drag things out any further than necessary. 

It may not be the slickest of ghost movies, but it's certainly one of the more effective, with a final act that will leave you chilled and disturbed. 

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