Danny Trejo, a name that becomes more synonymous with the horror genre with each passing month, and stars in director Jeffery Scott Lando’s Ghostquake (originally know as Haunted High) and film resides at the SyFy channel, with him performing duties as a janitor named Ortiz, who seems to a high degree of spiritual integrity.
Screenwriters Paul A. Birkett and Anthony C. Ferrante pen a tale about cursed coins, involving a cult headed by the former headmaster Danforth (M.C. Gainey) and a faithful former student (Misty Marshall), who waits for the appropriate time to unleash themselves from bowels of hell or in the case the boiler room at Halloman High in New England. The high school has a typical style to it, with sub-groups of popular students, geeks, athletes, and one very person, Quentin, grandson of Danforth, and he possesses the cursed coins, as he turns eighteen years old. The story takes a creepy turn, but never turns the way a horror movie plans to with a history teacher, escorting Quentin down into the boiler, and while it remains odd that a teacher has willful access to such unauthorized areas, makes the audience if more sinister aspects occur in this room. Suddenly, with the slip of a coin, falling onto the floor, unleashing an inverted pentagram and opening the doorway for Danforth and his lone follower to emerge in the school and begin a killing spree. One wonders where the rest of the followers laid, if not with him, and but that is one among other odd issues, such as keeping the former portrait of him up, and knowing he was a cult leader, not a normal response from parents, especially at a preppy uniformed school.
The crew, handles their duties prociently and director Lando, provides his steady hand and controls production, after all with film credits such classics of the b-movie vein as House of Bones and Goblin, aside from the story no technical flaws exist, the sound and lighting hit the marks perfectly adequate for the movie. Executive producer Kenneth M. Badish, know for many of SyFy and television movies, knows the working formula for the standard horror film, not too scary or gory, nothing that raises red flags, with movies that fulfill the requirement of entertainment. Does bad acting exists, yes, it does, overacting scenes versus a more wooden stature, of that again falls into the category of normal television horror, the audience comes to expect, as a standard. That does not mean everyone of the film fell into that grouping, with Danny Trejo and Charisma Carpenter (of Buffy and Angel fame), bringing their talents along with M.C. Gainey, they stay steady and continue to hit marks, with the right emotional payout for their scenes. The special effects are a typical fair, and a high usage of CGI, along with cadaver frogs, machines, returning to a life, with ghostly images appearing to assist in the murdering of many students.
One must note, that Charisma, appearance tends for a more short live sequence, as opposed you screen time on House of Bones, also from the same production team found here, she appears and vanishes from the film in 10-minutes, with a very brief killing, that absorbs her into the floor. Sadly, a worthless scene, no interaction with anyone, removing her talent so quickly and late into a movie robs the audience of enjoying her finesse in acting. Meanwhile Danny, reveals he is secret guardian, fighting the evil Misty, encouraged by his dead sister’s ghost, as athletes bully a geek (Shawn C. Phillips) into breaking to the principal’s office to hack the database and change grades. This obvious to the format of previous teen films, some note it back to WarGames (1983 [with Matthew Broderick]), as comical line referring DOS commands, and this seems to frustrate the hacker.
The final battle sequence enthralls making sure the audience paid attention to the film, as Quentin (Jonathan Baron) gets possessed by Danforth, while trying to escape with his friend Whitney (Lauren Pennington) and Danny’s ghost fighting Danforth, to free Quentin. Confusing, a tad, but the conclusion allows many ends to meet the pre-destined place in time and spiritual realms. As for taking time to enjoy, that all depends if one enjoys watching notable actors muscle their way through a direct-to-television movie, if not then this might not be enjoyable.