The world of indie horror filmmaking can be hit or miss. Occasionally, we may find a rare, unexpected gem proving that a lack of budget won’t always stand in the way of a satisfying final product. Take 2021’s WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR: a shoestring budget actually added to the aura of this unsettling festival hit, and whether you liked the divisive movie or not, it left everyone who’s seen it feeling unsettled and spooked. Unfortunately, the film GHOST TRACK isn’t one of these indie gems.
In the film, a group of friends with a dark secret from their childhood begin receiving threats from a ghost from their past. Throughout the movie, they’re picked off one by one until the truth is revealed. If this sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it before—again and again. A good ghost story is difficult to tell in this day and age; it would seem that the tropes and clichés have all been tired out, and it’s hard to add anything new to the sub-genre. If you don’t attempt to do so, why even try?
The truth is that not all writers are directors, and not all directors are writers. Case in point: Jason M.J. Brown, whose other titles include DARK VALE, HALLOWEEN CREEP TALES, and A DATE WITH GHOSTS. In GHOST TRACK, his screenplay offers very little tension or character development. Uneven flashbacks tell us exposition rather than show us. And boy, do they tell us…again and again. The bulk of the movie is said friend group running from one location to another, saying things like, “[The ghost] is upstairs,” before running to another location. An intriguing third-act reveal is, unfortunately, poorly executed, and while the actor it revolves around gives a stronger performance than those around them, that isn’t saying much.
Not a lot is achieved when it comes to direction, either. Long pauses between dialogue and sparse use of score make this 76-minute runtime seem much longer. The use of Instagram-level filters attempts to…set a mood? Distract from camera quality? It’s unclear why the entire film is in soft glow, amber, and blue filters. At one moment, it’s tinted to be a dark, stormy night. Then in the next shot, it’s blue-skied daytime. Sound is an issue as well. If you’re filming in a field of wheat or a tunnel with a creek running through it, and the environment’s sound drowns out the dialogue, it might be time to consider an ADR session. The wardrobe is distracting (it shouldn’t be because none of the costuming is elaborate), leaving the viewer to assume the cast was allowed to dress themselves. One character carries an unneccesary leather jacket slung over his shoulder for a solid 15 minutes in an attempt to look cool while another wears a sweater tied around his neck over a t-shirt, and yet another is in short shorts. What time of year is it? Why is our female lead wearing this much denim?
There are a handful of interesting shots, it’s clear Brown has an eye for the occasional long shot or off-center closeup, and perhaps with a cleaner, more exciting script and more focus on behind-the-camera elements rather than the page something more memorable could have been produced.
It’s available on YouTube.