February 11, 2019 Broken Ghost (Movie Review)
Can we ever truly begin again or do we carry our ghosts with us wherever we go? In the brand-new coming-of-age story, Broken Ghost, one young woman and her family will try to leave the past far behind— but have they merely replaced their secrets with supernatural spirits? Film Mode Entertainment delivers the film to digital and VOD platforms on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.
Amidst a gang turf war in the mountains of Montana, two bikers have disappeared. Despite the local news reporting their suspicious disappearances, all is fairly sleepy when Grace (Autry Haydon-Wilson: Cindy series), who is vision impaired, and her parents move into an old farmhouse in town. There is already trouble in paradise: mom Sam (Scottie Thompson: NCIS series, 12 Monkeys series) has purchased a drugstore in town and is growing frustrated with keeping their family afloat, while dad Will (Nick Farnell: Ned Kelly 2003, Where the Wild Things Are 2009), a former teacher, is currently making his living as an artist and suffering from a porn problem. It’s clear that the family are trying to escape something in their collective past, something that haunts Grace from her very first moments at her brand-new school and the first utterance of her old name.
As the family of three settle into their new home, they are quickly informed of the tragedies surrounding their property: here, an artist went mad and stabbed both his wheelchair-bound wife and twelve-year-old daughter to death before taking his own life. Will quickly dismisses the idea of the house being haunted, casually quipping that there are no ghosts residing amongst them. So, why does the TV seem to switch on by itself at all hours of the day? Light fixtures swing, images appear on the bathroom mirror, and there’s something lurking beneath the peeling wallpaper in the upstairs bedrooms. The noises in the attic are quickly dismissed as raccoons, but who is whispering Grace’s old name in the middle of the night in a bid for her attention?
Clocking in at 103 minutes, Broken Ghost was directed by Richard Gray (The Lookalike 2014, Sugar Mountain 2016), and was written by Abe Pogos (Blue Heelers series, Sugar Mountain 2016) and Catherine Hill (Sugar Mountain 2016). It also features the acting talents of Devon Bagby (CSI:NY series, Ray Donovan series) as bully Brandon; Joy Brunson (Rosewood series, This Is Us series), as Sam’s employee and friend, Cath; Brandon Lessard (Robert the Bruce 2019), as Eugene; Frank Lotito (The Lookalike 2014, The Widow short 2018), as local bartender Tony; George Griffith (Twin Peaks series, Mom and Dad 2017) as Officer Chapman; and John Teague (Blue Heelers series, Sugar Mountain 2016) as Jason Adair.
Broken Ghost is a Thriller and a truly unconventional ghost story. Under the umbrella of a coming-of-age tale that revolves around a young woman trying to escape her past, the film handles the topics of bullying and rising above our pasts, all while empowering its female lead. Many other films might have made the vision-impaired Grace a mousey, timid little thing who jumps at the slightest noise, instead, this Grace is a confident, bold young woman who proudly roams the landscape unassisted, literally taking the reigns of her own destiny.
In the role, Haydon-Wilson is flawless: a sassy teenager who, despite secrets in her past, is trying very hard to embrace her new life. Haydon-Wilson has a voice like honey, and she portrays her character with a boldness that never once ignores subtle nuances and yet lends a confidence that seems to bely Grace’s teenage years. In English, Haydon-Wilson’s Grace is a woman who surpasses the general wisdom of her age, a proud female lead who, despite an impairment in her vision, is never actually handicapped in any of her activities. She is the female lead that we need in 2019, and Haydon-Wilson was clearly meant to play this role.
Because of this, Broken Ghost has an immense strength in its fully modern story, one that is complemented beautifully by the stunning scenery of Livingston, Montana, where it was filmed. Working in tandem with the awe-inspiring cinematography of John Garrett (Sugar Mountain 2016, A Boy Called Sailboat 2018) is the wonderful original Indie Country/Folk soundtrack composed and performed by Blackwater Railroad Company. As if all of this was not enough, the original artwork of Sarah Farmer (Sarah-Farmer.com) featured throughout the film is tragically poignant, oft macabre yet intense in its eye-catching allure. A film centered around an artist without true art would be a waste of time, and Broken Ghost cuts no corners in this respect.
In truth, Broken Ghost never cuts corners: it is an exceptional film that goes above and beyond to author a tale that is, much like its main character, likely to defy most expectations. Yes, it is a slow burner, but it tackles many hot topics, from bullying to empowerment, in its succinct runtime and does so with a graceful ease. Intelligently written, wonderfully acted, and standing as a solid advertisement for Montana tourism, Broken Ghost comes highly recommended. Impressed, Cryptic Rock give Broken Ghost 4.5 of 5 stars.