Ghost Writer: Hell’s Property (2004) – By Duane L. Martin

Earlier this month, Bobby Peoples contacted me and asked me if we’d put the trailer for his new movie Ghost Writer: Hell’s Property here in the magazine. We don’t run trailers in the magazine, but I asked him if he’d be willing to send me a copy of the movie to review, and he did.

I had never heard of Bobby Peoples before and when I checked, his website was mostly up but still a bit under construction. After a little digging around there I realized why. This was Bobby Peoples’ first movie. I was actually happy to discover this, and excited as well because seeing a director’s first movie can really tell you a lot about their vision and their potential as an independent filmmaker.

I received the movie earlier this month and watched it initially with my wife. I don’t usually watch a movie I’m going to review unless I’m planning on reviewing it right then, but in this case I made an exception because the trailer made it look entertaining and we were both in the mood for something fun, so we decided to watch it. The movie is fun, and there’s a lot of fun stuff in it, but before I get to the actual review part of this review, let me tell you what it’s about.

Ghost Writer: Hell’s Property is the story of a possessed laptop that belongs to the Devil. Now why would the Devil be handing out a laptop? Because the people in this film are all involved with the literary world in one way or another, whether it be directly or indirectly. The laptop writes stories for them one after another, and all the stories become best sellers and make the people rich and famous. Unfortunately for them however, the laptop demands payment for its services…in the form of their lives. One after another people who’ve owned the laptop and used it for their own benefit die off, killed by it’s evil power or it’s general evil influences on others. Basically, that’s the story in a nutshell. Now for the review part…

For a first effort, Ghost Writer: Hell’s Property is actually quite good in many ways. The story was entertaining and the various scenes were for the most part all laid out nicely and edited together in such a way as to keep the pacing good and make sure that all the elements of the story were told well. There was a fair amount of humor in this film as well, be it intentional or unintentional. One of the things I found particularly amusing was one of the stories the possessed laptop was writing out. Here’s a copy of what we see it typing. Now mind you, this is an exact character for character transcript of what was on the screen. I haven’t altered it in any way. It’s cut off at the end because the scene changed as it was still typing.

This is one of those storys that is scary as well as suspence. I’m not sure if it is true though it could be. There was a lady who lived all on her own. One day her sister came to visit her. Time past by so fast that it was now really dark outside so the lady offered her sister to stay the night over. Because the lady lived in a flat, she only had one bed. Luckily it was a double bed so they both agreed to sleep together in the same bed. It was about 3:00 in the night time when the lady woke up remembering that she ran out of milk. She got up and walked to the corner shop that was open for 24hours. Half way to the shop. she realized she had forgoten her purse. So she went back home and slowly crept into the bedroom. She didnt want to wake her sister up so she did’nt open the light. She got her purse and left.
On her way back from the shop, she saw the police outside her house. The whole neighborhood was outside and were saying they were sory for her. She didnt no what the heck was going on. When she went inside her house in the bedroom, she found her sisters head on the floor and a knife in her chest. The lady was terified but when she looked at her mirror she just froze. On the mir

As you can see, it’s full of wrong word forms, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, etc… I thought that was funny because this thing was supposed to be writing best sellers. Hell, if I made a deal with the devil and got something that wrote like that, I’d ask for my soul back. I actually didn’t even notice it until I was going through the movie again last night and I paused the movie so I could read what it said. I was laughing really hard when I actually read it. Something else that struck me funny because of my background as a PC technician was the fact that no one ever plugged in the laptop, and every time it was transferred to someone, it never came with an AC adapter. All I could think was, “Damn! That’s one hell of a battery!”

The acting in this film ranges from decent to terrible depending on the person. For the most part it wasn’t bad, but one thing that I thought was really funny was that the devil looked like he just stepped out of a gangsta rap video.

This film, as good as it is for a first effort, does have a few serious technical issues. There’s a few scenes where the video data was corrupted. In one scene, you see some random corruption blocks on the screen, while later on there’s actually a whole scene that’s generally corrupted. Just speaking for myself, if it was me, I would have re-shot the scenes just to make sure they were clean, but the corruption isn’t horribly distracting and is only really bad in that one scene.

The other major technical flaw in this movie has to do with the music. The music is ok, albeit somewhat inappropriate at times, but at many points of the film, the recording levels were WAY too hot. You might want to keep your sound remote in your hand to help compensate for that. At one point it’s even so hot that you can hear the sound actually crackling / breaking because it’s pegging the needles so hard. As for the general sound in the film itself, it’s often audible and recorded at a decent level, but at several points it’s hard to understand what people are saying because the recording levels were too low or they weren’t mic’d well enough. Subtitles would have helped out a lot in these instances. I always like to see subtitles in a movie because it really helps out in picking out quiet bits of dialogue that you might otherwise have missed. It’s also good for people who have some hearing loss and essential for people who are completely deaf. Most indie films don’t have subtitles, but I wish more would take the time to do it. I’m not knocking this particular film for not having them. I’m just making a general statement about what I’d like to see. The disc itself has no extras, but it does have scene selection.

When it comes right down to it, indie films don’t usually have the budget to be flashy and cool looking, so their soul focus has to be on entertaining the viewer with the story and the acting and all the other elements that go into making a good film. After you watch an indie film, and you’re making judgements about it, you should ask yourself, “Was I entertained by this film?” Whether you were entertained or not is the sole factor in determining if it was worth your time and money to experience it. Everyone will have different answers, but as for me, I was entertained. I thought that for a first effort, Bobby Peoples did a really decent job in getting this movie together, and I look forward to seeing more out of him in the future.

You can check out The Peoples Film Company website and view the Ghost Writer: Hell’s Property trailer at http://www.thepeoplesfilmcompany.com. Right now he’s self distributing the film, so if you want to order yourself a copy, you can do it through the website.