A team of investigators prepares a live broadcast from a suspected haunted house. The Early family lives in the home, and have been experiencing poltergeist activity. A small team is sent to broadcast live from the home, hoping to catch some paranormal activity, while back in the studio, the host takes calls, and speaks with Dr. Lin Pascoe (Gillian Bevan), the original investigator on the case. At first, things appear to be a hoax, but activity begins escalating, slowly endangering the lives of everybody watching the program.
Ghostwatch is another addition to fantastic UK frights. When it comes to unnerving viewing, the UK is the play to look. This film tops the list though. Set up as a live broadcast, in the same manner that so many ghost hunting shows are now, the movie was actually banned from being broadcast again, because of negative reaction from audiences. Like Orson Welles had done with War of the Worlds, director Lesley Manning and writer Stephen Volk did with Ghostwatch.
People believed this was happening, and the film was even said to have caused PTSD in children. It’s not hard to see why. The film is still incredibly frightening, bolstered by the way the evil ghost, Pipes, randomly appears in very quick shots, and how the presenters in the show played themselves. It feels quite real, and obviously had a tremendous impact. The film was banned from broadcast for ten years, and still hasn’t been repeated on television, even though the ban has expired.
All the performances in the film are quite well done, although the children in the movie are a bit stiff. This may be something that only adults really notice, leaving the traumatic experience intact for kids. The ghostly occurrences are also well done, but are limited to loud noises, and the occasional object flying across the room. That’s easily done, but it’s the way in which Pipes randomly shows up that is the most disturbing. Usually so quick that you may miss it, it’s those brief glimpses that send chills up your spine, and people are still discovering his image in the film, over twenty years later.
It’s funny how familiar this film is now, ending up like so many other ghost hunting shows, even though this predates them. This fact adds a lot of authenticity to screenings now, as the format is something we’ve all seen before. If you’re looking to frighten some friends this year, Ghostwatch is the place to start.
The Final Call
They don’t make them this uncomfortable now, and without excessive violence to turn audiences off. This is good, old fashioned fright, and there may not be a better film to put on, while you turn the lights off.