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By Steve Anderson | July 29, 2005

Any movie that takes place on Halloween is generally a movie to pay attention to. There’s a long legacy of movies that took place on that dark and evil day. Some of them are excellent blockbuster titles that forever lodge themselves in the national pantheon. Others are utter wastes of DVD plastic–just plain garbage.

Ghost Watcher firmly lodges itself in the latter category.

So what we have here is the story of an agoraphobic living in a haunted apartment. Wow…talk about your catch-22’s, eh? She lives with a paralyzing, irrational fear of wide open spaces (read: anything outside her apartment), meanwhile, the one SAFE place she’s got is spook central!

What does our frightened agoraphobic do? She goes on the internet and orders a load of ghost tracking gear off a “ghost hunter” website. She even goes so far as to enlist the services of the same “ghost hunter” that she brought the crap from. Not that this is any kind of “serious ghost hunter,” if such a thing actually exists–the girl’s got a “members only” section on her web site that involves her hanging around in skimpy lingerie for thirty bucks a month. Not exactly a promotional bell ringer–I know I’d never select a ghost hunter on the basis of who looks the hottest on their web site.

The ghost hunter, along with the agoraphobic and the agoraphobic’s friend / sole link to the outside world that doesn’t involve a computer, spend the rest of the movie hunting up the ghost of a man who killed the agoraphobic’s family. Of course, it seldom works so simply–frequently the ghost hunters are rebuffed and beaten, bruised and bloodied by the ghost they pursue.

Ghost Watchers has a very tenuous hold on its audience. It is by lengths frightening and confusing, with segments that are truly bone-chilling inserted in the midst of events that have no conceivable explanation. They insert long skeins of exposition in the middle of the movie, and frankly, I have no clue where they’re going with this. Their plot requires so much less time than this to complete, that they’re just basically running filler material to keep up the runtime. You know, like writers DO sometimes when they can’t think of much else to say but they have a deadline and a minimum word count. Kind of like I just did. Right there.

But seriously, Ghost Watcher needed a heavy editing hand. I have to think that it could have been a quality movie if they would have reworked the script to remove the repetitious and confusing segments.

The ending might very well be magnificent, but since I really couldn’t follow what happened in the preceding hour and twenty minutes, I can’t vouch for the quality of what I just saw.

The special features include director’s commentary, Spanish subtitles, Ghost Watcher trailers, deleted scenes, alternate ending, gag watcher (which is really just a blooper reel with a clever name), and trailers for Open Water and Ju-On: The Grudge (the Japanese version, still Sarah Michelle Gellar free).

All in all, Ghost Watcher has its creepy moments, its truly suspenseful bits, and some truly excellent segments. But these are overmastered by the wide expanses of pointless, incomprehensible filler material. This renders Ghost Watcher nearly unwatchable for all but the most patient.

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