Director Alin Bijan returned to the horror genre, after of eleven years since his only venture known as Bells of Innocence (2003), bringing first time horror screenwriter Amy Acosta’s creation Ghost of Goodnight Lane to the screen, and headlined by Billy Zane and Danielle Harris. The script presents a ghost who makes the determination to defend her residence against those who wish to sell it for financial gain, though the story tends to slide to rage from a childhood, previous murders and even hint at Charles Manson. This first off is a low budget horror film, with quite a bit of talent spread throughout the film, yet not quite used to the full expectations horror fans crave would take place on the screen.
Amy’s screenplay presents an interesting turn into the common theme of haunted houses, as part of a building in use as a house and the second portion a movie studio of an independent film company, who is filming a horror musical with product placement galore. Although the film doesn’t necessarily have anything to do directly with the filming material, it does when the inhibited ghost goes from the annoying playful movement of personal items and filming equipment to deadly consequences involving the crew and cast. This portion tends to muddle itself in transition, first leaning to a found music box that awakens the ghost causing an appearance after it is opens, and that then connects to the future sale of the home and studio. Nevertheless, Amy and Alin worked on the screenplay together, and brought together some unique elements especially when they involved cinematographer David Blood (his real name) whose craft has splattered across many genres including horror and truly gave birth to dozens of creepy dolls. The gore a tad absent, replaced with healthy dose of blood, a brief nudity, yet more of sexual suggestions through language and skimpy outfits round out this horror film.
Even though the film has many ghostly clichés, sequences such as faces in the mirrors, mental possessions, and long hair ghosts made famous from The Ring, and even to flower-power flashback it brings a mild usage of CGI and yet still layers itself with quirky characters and named talent. Billy Zane (Alan) mixes his familiar deadpan humor that rekindles memories from his work in Dead Calm (1988) and when the discussion covers the area of the ghost and the shutting of doors, in addition mixing of names and identities of Charles and Marilyn Manson. Then mix screen presence of Allyn Carrell, who portrays Thelma, and is not a stranger to the horror genre especially when dealing with specters as her first horror film was none-other-than Devon’s Ghost: Legend of the Bloody Boy (2005). Thelma enters to warn the staff of the ghost though it seems that they already know of it, yet not to the extent of the anger and hatred boiling within the phantom’s essence. Throw into the mix, Lacey Chabert (Black Christmas – remake) and Danielle Harris, who has graced the screen in 46 horror films and counting, including See No Evil 2 (2014), begin to piece together the storyline and mystery of the ghost’s intentions. Sadly, not quickly, enough as the cast and crew begin to suffer starting with the editor Ronnie (Richard Tyson – most recalled for his role of Buddy in Three O’Clock High (1987)); completing his removal with coat hooks turned spikes. Lastly, actresses Christine Bently and Brina Palencia add themselves into the bloody mix, generating some interesting bits on fodder into the grinder of ghostly occurrences.
A further note on the Manson revelation, the weaving of that into the storyline, and expressing sexual suggestion involving a family member for the young girl, then turned ghost (Sophia Arias) Carly (sounds like Charlie) an original concept. However, if the indie-filmmakers’ film had similar themes and a Charlie connection, with the explosion from both the girl ghost and spinning the audience into a spookier landscape. Sadly, never occurs, and yet the lesson the audience does learn, concerning the confusing door references find themselves tossed out the proverbial window setting up a part two.
Ghost of Goodnight Lane, a curious title first off, and not falling into the trap of A Haunting of whatever, rather attempting some separation, sadly this is not a true horror film, the scares tend for a mild scare, the atmosphere, lacks the darkness of the genre and features in the haunted sub-genre. The production values very sounded, practical effects limited to the confines of the budget, with terrific line in the film from Alan – “I did not authorize CGI” – referencing the indie-filmmaker’s budget mentality. The film carries no baggage, a harmless standardized 90-minute film, that likely Chiller and Syfy will add to their landscape soon enough. The recommendation, enjoy for the flick for worthwhile blend of talents and refreshing location for a ghost-story, as you won’t lose any sleep with night terrors, harmless in that aspect and the intended comical lines miss the mark and yet create unintentional ones. In 2016, Blu-ray release came from FilmRise, and update from this 2014 DVD release Inception Media Group.
This review originally posted in Rogue Cinema’s September 2014 earning 1,314 views.
IMDb Rating: 4.4/10
Baron’s Rating: 4/10