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Ghost Witch (2017) Review

Haunted house horror brings a team of investigators to search for a ghost.

Ghost Witch is a 2015 (released 2017) horror film about a group of ragtag paranormal investigators get more than they bargain for when they research an old local urban legend for a disturbed local girl.

The haunted house film has been a curiously sustainable subgenre in horror, the baser frights of things that go bump in the night driving audiences into theaters for decades upon decades. It’s a simple premise that relies on jump scares and score cues to get reactions, somehow able to keep getting remade despite the obvious limitations. Now comes Joseph Lavender‘s Ghost Witch, another in a long line of similar horror films that capitalizes on the basics rather than peeling it back a bit to expose something a little more meaningful. It’s an ambition Indie film but a familiar one.

In a small suburban college town, Zeke (Chase Steven Anderson) spends his time searching for paranormal activity, working with others in a team called G.H.O.S.T., though business is slow. Zeke meets a pretty girl named Mattie (Mandi Christine Kerr) as a pool party after her bully brother tosses him and his laptop into the water. She tells Zeke of a weird incident she had as a child in an old house her father owned. She explains that the house is haunted by a Native American woman who was allegedly raped, tortured and murdered, having three toes chopped off, earning the ghost name of Seven-Toes Maggie. Naturally, Zeke and his, um, ghost busters, decide to visit the house and spend the night with Mattie, only to discover that the legend is true and there’s a ghost looking to get some nasty revenge.

By no real fault of his own, Lavender is not working with very much in terms of budget or originality. Having written the screenplay with Jarrod Musselwhite, the film is a predictable collection of tropes that have come to be pretty standard for the genre, and the filmmakers employ every trick in the bag to keep the story running on its tracks. Sure, it’s often a good looking film and there’s some relatively decent performances (and a few that aren’t) from the young cast, but there’s very little momentum driving it forward. That’s really too bad because for the most part, especially with the two leads, there’s some fun chemistry and even a bit of authenticity in their relationship. Kerr in particular is a charming and very natural actress.

Ghost Witch
Ghost Witch, 2017 © Blackflight Studios

Where it loses grip is in the second half as, even at only 97 minutes, it begins to feel padded. Seven-Toes Maggie is never really fleshed out enough, beyond some possession and a plenty of thumping, and while there are moments that hold potential, this is just not a scary movie and feels mostly untapped, relying on the well-tread clichés we seen before. Still, given what Lavander is trying to do and with what, some concessions might be warranted. He doesn’t take many risks but does show some promise in a few moments that build tension.

A movie like Ghost Witch is not looking to rewrite the books and Lavender, in his feature length debut, keeps the film well-contained and for most of it, well-paced. This isn’t going add anything to the genre but for fans, might easily be a good time anyway.

Ghost Witch (2017) Review
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