DVD Corner's blog

News, dvd and blu-ray reviews

Ghostwatch Blu-ray Review

“Ghostwatch” is an influential found footage TV movie. 

While relatively unknown in the U.S., director Lesley Manning and writer Stephen Volk’s “Ghostwatch” is a horror classic over in England. The BBC TV special aired on October 31, 1992 and freaked out audiences due to the fact that it presented itself as a live factual documentary/investigative special (even though it’s an entirely scripted fictional horror film). 

Michael Parkinson hosts the studio broadcast portion alongside Mike Smith who provides feedback from a hotline in which viewers could call in. In the field are reporters Craig Charles and Sarah Greene. Alongside the camera and sound crew, Greene is tasked with going inside an alleged haunted house in which a mother and her two children are being terrorized by paranormal happenings (and possibly a ghost named Pipes). The program cuts back and forth from the studio to the home. In the studio, Parkinson frequently chats with a parapsychologist (Dr. Lin Pascoe) who discusses evidence and analyzes video and audio. Discussions of it being a hoax are mentioned more than a few times. Over at the house, however, strange activity begins to occur inside the house with a messed up past which may or may not affect those that are watching it “live” on TV and in the studio. 

31 years later “Ghostwatch” might seem like a dated horror TV movie, but its impact cannot be overlooked. Not only was it influential in the horror genre, but it went on to inspire the found footage craze. Astute viewers will notice elements that perhaps inspired “Paranormal Activity” (intentionally or otherwise). In terms of the film itself, it is mostly effective. Yes, it often feels like people are just making noise off screen for some of the jump scares, but the commitment to making it look and feel like a real BBC special is what makes it stand out. There’s an Orson Welles “War Of The Worlds” broadcast vibe here in which you can imagine unsuspecting viewers being genuinely creeped out watching this on Halloween night. What really sells it is the performances by both the actors and the noted TV presenters (who are also acting at the same time). There’s an authenticity to the acting that draws the viewer into the proceedings which become more and more eerie until the final frame. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.33:1 1080p. How does it look? Given how poorly old BBC shows tend to look, this is a nice restoration.

Audio Track: Mono PCM. How does it sound? The Mono audio is pretty mediocre at best, but it’s effective when it needs to be.

Extras:
* 6 art cards
* Commentary by writer Stephen Volk, producer Ruth Baumgarten, and director Lesley Manning.
* A scriptbook with notes and storyboards.
* A booklet with photos, a short story by Stephen Volk, an essay by filmmaker Sarah Appleton, a written piece by Tim Miller
* Commentary by film historians Shellie McMurdo and Stella Gaynor.
* “Do You Believe In Ghosts?”- A 48 minute documentary about the film complete with cast and crew interviews. Expect tons of behind-the-scenes information and production stories.
* “Shooting Reality”- Director Lesley Manning talks about script notes and markings and technical aspects.

Advertisement

January 8, 2023 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: