By Admin | September 18, 2003

Old Hollywood decides that it’s not going out without a gunfight in Ghosts of Edendale, and when Old Hollywood wants to defend its turf, it doesn’t fool around.

The DVD menu is a real thrill–easily one of the best out there. Figures move in the background and fade from color to black and white, as though the picture is aging and moving all on its own. In the background, a discordant piano solo crashes its way through the sequence of movement, lending a truly eerie touch to the tableau. Meanwhile, the options sit nondescript below the picture, almost an afterthought. It’s subtle without being too obtuse, and a truly refreshing touch to an often ignored feature of DVDs.

Even the individual option menus have their own ominous backgrounds. I haven’t seen a DVD menu this involved since Jeepers Creepers 2, and I love it.

A couple, Kevin and Rachel by name, moves into an old house in California, setting up residence on a fairly run down street, Edendale Place. Apparently, Edendale was the center of some serious goings-on in Hollywood, including whatever happened to the previous owners of the house our hapless couple just bought. Something so bizarre that they left food to rot in the unpowered refrigerator, left furniture abandoned behind them, and even rushed out so fast they knocked the back porch’s wind chime.

They discover some very pleasant neighbors, like Julian and Alex, who not only help Kevin and Rachel move in, but also bring beer.

This should be Kevin and Rachel’s first warning sign–strangers bearing beer in the middle of Los Angeles is not exactly normal–but if they used logical thought processes we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we?

The neighborhood has this whole “pod person” feel to it–everyone in the neighborhood is in “the business” in one way or another; actors, writers, musicians are all well represented with a near fanaticism. For instance, Julian and Alex discuss Andrew, an actor who apparently botched a show they had recommended him for, and the neighborhood reacted with a systematic ostracism. They visibly hate to discuss Andrew, and refuse to invite him to parties.

I keep waiting for Julian to stand stock-still, arm stretched out, finger pointing, screaming “Anna Nicole! Anna Nicole!”

Andrew, meanwhile, is wandering around the neighborhood like a junkie looking for a crack house, desperate for Rachel to tell him when the next party will be.

Things don’t get much better from there for Kevin and Rachel. Weird events plague them, both natural and paranormal. And Kevin’s changing, too…not necessarily for the better. Kevin’s working out! Quitting smoking! Watching what he eats! Getting weepy and obsessive over spurs his wife found in…the…garden? Oooookay. Something is definitely not right in Kevin’s head-meat.

The events keep rolling right along until the inexorable conclusion, which is presented terribly well in the truly unsettling ending as Rachel discovers that the stories of Edendale aren’t just stories after all….

Creepy moments abound in “Ghosts of Edendale”–there are all kinds of scenes that’ll have you working the rewind and frame advance buttons on your remotes as you ask “What was THAT?” For instance, keep your eyes on Rachel’s bedroom closet for a moment that got ME nervous, and that’s saying something. Check out the fence a little later, too.

Extra features are also very involved. We have a handful of audio and commentary options, behind the scenes featurettes, production artwork, a trailer, deleted scenes, and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Ghosts of Edendale uses music and atmosphere to a maximum effectiveness, creating a film that is at once cerebral and unsettling. It refuses to rely on trite horror gimmicks like buckets of blood and mock Satanic rituals, and instead relies on its environment and excellent cinematography to produce its shocks.

All in all, Ghosts of Edendale is a highly effective horror film, for what it uses and what it REFUSES. Stefan Avalos needs to be putting out more movies like this–it’s head and shoulders above the crap that’s hitting shelves these days.

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