Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Mandy Rubio, Andrew Fisher, Ali Alkhafaji, Lauren Lox, Keekee Suki, Mike Dell
Writer: Isaac Rodriguez
Director: Isaac Rodriguez
Distributor: No Sleep Films
Release Date: June 17, 2022
A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS is a relatively decent found-footage horror movie. Director/writer Isaac Rodriguez, who also serves as cinematographer, makes good use of the J. Lorrain Ghost Town location in Austin, Texas.
The film is economical and also brief, clocking in at just sixty-seven minutes, including end credits. On the one hand, suspense doesn’t get much time to build. On the other hand, this allows the characters t
o be fairly quick on the uptake.
After a bloody prologue, we get some title cards that inform us, “The following footage was recovered at the abandoned Blackwood Falls Ghost Town. Mark Sanders and his wife Jenna vanished after posting a series of videos from the town. Their bodies were never found.”
We then get a daytime overhead drone shot of present-day Blackwood Falls, establishing the town’s size, layout and layer of rust.
Mark (Andrew Fisher), speaking to his Web following, explains that he and his wife Jenna (Mandy Rubio) are in the process of purchasing Blackwood Falls.
Mark’s plan is to turn Blackwood Falls into a replica Old West town as a tourist destination. It’s three hours away from the nearest town in any direction, but to Mark, that’s part of the charm.
We can quickly discern that Jenna is far less entranced with the whole concept. She is trying to be supportive, even while she hates almost everything about Blackwood Falls (and that’s before she even knows the half of it).
Mark brings in his cousin Justin (Ali Alkhafaji), who has some high-end digital filmmaking equipment, to help with documenting the town’s development. Justin brings along his sensible girlfriend Lisa (Lauren Lox). Mark additionally hires groundskeeper Billy (Keekee Suki), who has some history with Blackwood Falls.
Given the title of A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS, it’s not much of a spoiler to say that Blackwood Falls is a ghost town in more than one sense of the term. Perhaps because it’s so short, we get more PARANORMAL ACTIVITY-type phenomena than actual haunting, although that’s here as well.
Filmmaker Rodriguez tips his hat a little to some specific techniques from PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, with unmonitored footage that speeds up until it gets to something we’re meant to look observe. There’s much more homage to THE SHINING. We get a wasp’s nest, alcohol that shows up on its own, and more besides.
What we don’t get, as A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS progresses, are certain revelations the material seems to warrant. We eventually get the town’s back story, but it seems like this should come earlier, as it would be a selling point for Mark. Also, if the place’s history is so unknown, how did Mark find it? And who sold it to him?
If the narrative played out a bit differently, these questions might not matter. However, given the set-up, they come to seem like significant omissions. Ominous music, while it sets a mood, also removes us a bit from the immediacy of what we’re watching.
Fisher and Rubio give us a credible portrait of a marriage coming apart, and Alkhafaji is solid as a nice guy who feels, with cause, that he’s being pushed beyond his limits.
As a cinematographer, Rodriguez gives us crisp, easy-to-view images that still feel like they’re a product of what the characters are shooting.
A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS doesn’t scare up any new notions, but it mostly fulfills its modest promise.
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Article: Movie Review: A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS