Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Cinema File #200: "Ghost Storm" Review

Syfy Channel Original films typically come in two types, Monster Movies and Disaster Movies. When I save all of these for binge viewing, I usually only keep the Monster ones, because I've never really been a fan of killer weather. Occasionally I find one weird enough that I have to watch it, like The 12 Disasters Of Christmas, and I fully intend to watch the upcoming Stonados, about stone throwing tornados, a film pulled for its initial release because it was set in Boston and was due to come out right around the time of the recent bombing. Today's film is a rare combination of the two types, with a storm made of ghosts aptly titled Ghost Storm.

It seems like exactly the kind of silly premise this network is known for, but honestly, they handle the idea of supernatural weather about as plausibly as I could have in their shoes, and in the end, it actually works really well. Ghosts have often been presented as forms of energy, interfering with electronics, showing up on the Ghostbusters' PKE meters or EVP and so on, so its not much of a stretch to think a swarm of them might be similar to a meteorological phenomenon. In this case, its the spirits of a cult mass sacrifice released from a crypt by a lightening strike in typical schlocky fashion.

The titular Ghost Storm is basically living fog with the will to kill, snaking through any opening and turning anyone it touches into dust, unless it decides to possess them, steal their souls through their electronics, or just creep them out by making the walls bleed or taking the form of the dead souls within the cloud. The creature is all but unstoppable, to the point where the method of beating it strains credulity even in a movie about a Ghost Storm. The dogged ingenuity with which it stalks its victims and the resulting impressive body count is enough to make this one of the most threatening and frankly bad ass Syfy monsters since the Tasmanian Devils.

The only real problem I have with the movie is the emphasis on the characters. Specifically, I think this movie picked the wrong character to follow as the protagonist, while a supporting one would have been a much more entertaining hero. Once again we get a small town sheriff, as we've seen in a few of these already including Heebie Jeebies and The Boogeyman, but half way through we get Battlestar Galactica's Aaron Douglas as a stoic paranormal investigator who is so much more interesting than anyone else in the movie and should have been the main focus. None of the other characters measure up, and the more we stay with them and not Douglas, I'm forced to root for the CGI smoke.

Still, I'd say overall, Ghost Storm is one of the better efforts I've watched so far in this Syfy retrospective I've been doing lately, not quite good enough to hit the top, still occupied by Tasmanian Devils and Battle Dogs, but far from the low low bottom of Flying Monkeys and Abominable Snowman. Perhaps my opinion is a bit colored by the lower than average expectations I had for this one, as I tend to assume the weather movies won't hold my interest as much as this one did, but I'll take overinflated joy over abject hatred any day, and its not like I have to watch it again to find out if I'm wrong, so I'm sticking with “it's good.” If you get a chance, check it out.

Oh, and I almost forgot, technically there's not a stupid line of the week this week, but there is a wordless moment that I do need to mention. The ghost storm is released from a crypt not simply by the lightning, but I think also by urine. It's not entirely clear, but I'm pretty sure the sequence of events implies a teenager's desecration of the grounds by peeing on them is what ultimately sets off this whole story. Still not sure what I think about that, but seeing as how I'm the guy who liked the poo clones movie, I'm leaning towards this being awesome. 

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