An ambitious and truly independent film of a ghostly tale, with a steady screenplay all under the hand of Jeff Ferrell, who served as director, of his first feature film, and finally released under the skillful studio Brain Damage Films. The film sets itself up, with a similar flair to the original House on Haunted Hill, from gimmick master William Castle and creepiness of Vincent Price, except in this traditional specter film the house is none-other-than a Stage Theater, and Mr. Black (Dennis Kleinsmith) controls the gothic tone and captures the screen as mysterious owner of the facility.
The storyline has a contest winner getting the opportunity to win a financial prize, for spending 12-hours hence one night, in the Theater that contains a history of murders, and haunting. The winner, Andrew (Brian Sutherland), pure intent to win the money, and this brings the first obstacle to the film, $50,000, which Andrew states “More money than we’ve seen in our lives.” If one recalls that in the House of Haunted Hill the prize money equaled $10,000 noting the year of 1959, which was in 2014 dollars $81,000 and then remake at the other end of the spectrum, of $1,000,000 and herein the offering comes in at $50,000 . In addition, on the event day, the audience learns that Andrew won through a radio contest, and that this contest actually covers as a marketing event to renew interest in the theater. Hence, the second issue, with the movie, when Andrew arrives, no media coverage, no fanfare, a poor execution of advertising, yet the only thing that matters to Andrew dancing dollar signs in his eyes. The back-story gives the audience the set-up for the haunting tale, that in 1932, the previous owner Reginald Crawford killed his wife who had an affair with the theater organist, Eddie (Jeff Ferrell) and since then others have died in similar fashions. Eddie’s character mirrors in a uncanny manner to John Waters (minus the mustache), and the presentation of a video of three of gracing the silver screen that appears flawless, no pops or crackles, obvious a digital print, that was not available in 1932.
However, none of this affects the quality of the film especially using tricks of shadows, and mannequins interchanged with real people, and the using the skilled talents of Semih Tareen well design, composed musical trained score, that needs to grace the Hollywood world for the elite actress. The music drives the scenes, bringing a gothic love story to the screen and yet creating dire dread in the shadows. One must note, this is not the first horror film from Semih trained fingertips nor from is trained ear, having done a fantastic job with Gomeda (2007), and listen for the Hitchcock homage to Psycho (1960). The films strives forward, with a refreshing mature and somber thriller with a slow build translating not a teen horror film, nor filled with zombies or a comedy. The love, which exists inside the walls of the theater, also exists in the Andrew’s personal life with his nervous wife Mira (Lisa Coronado). Ghostlight develops a emotional connection, will suspense, a hinting creepy chill, echoing throughout the production, and during the filming of the movie, actual haunting sounds and incidents occurred during the film. Jeff found inspiration for the movie, by spending a night alone in the Historic Everett Theater, in Washington, where this film sets itself, and with his art mirroring life in general as the theater seeks to have renewed interests from the public. This film, while Jeff’s first feature, is not the first time working with gothic ghost stories, or Lisa Coronado, Dennis Kleinsmith and Semih Tareen, as they all joined together for Edgar Allan Poe’s Morella (2008) a highly generated acclaimed short film, therefore his stylish camera work shows that he his dedication to presenting a romantic and yet chilling tale.
As some may know, Ghostlight is a real stage term, and that one light remains constantly light for safety reasons, as theaters have no windows, however, a paranormal reason also exists, never to forget the performance of past stars and allowing them to grace the screens and stages forever. The film returns the audience to a fun concept for movies a classic gothic tale that pulls from a bit of The Skeleton Key (2005) and yet gives a refreshing mature film, creating a haunting atmospheric feature without the standard ghoulish gags and blood trails all for a chilling conclusion.