Ghost in the Machine (1993)
Director: Rachel Talalay
Computer geek by day and serial killer by night. He’s the address book killer. He steals your address books and kills all your friends before killing you. Our CPU loony (Marcoux) has his sights on a new victim: Terry (Allen) and her black wannabe son Josh (Horneff). Before he can get to them, nutball gets in an a car accident and dies on the brainscan table, his soul gets transferred in the hospital computer. He’s now free to roam through phone lines, affect kitchen appliances and continue with his plan of murdering Terry’s friends. Will he eventually get to her and her bratty son? Is this movie deja vu? Didn’t Horace Pinker (Shocker) do this thang before?
All style, zero substance. I’ll start with the positive. One thing’s for sure Rachel Talahay is showing off in this one and it worked for me. Swooping camera movements, wonderful visuals when the killer travels through phone lines, possessing electrical appliances. The camera is very kinetic and Talahay gives us an eyeful. The scene when the virus spreads inside the computer is way kool and made The Arrow stand up and spurt out a "Keanu" whoa! The murder sequences are creative and fun and the computer effects are decent.
Now for the negative. First off the characters are uninvolving. You don’t care about them. Usually in a horror flick, you root for the killer when the good guys are boring but in this one even the killer is a drag. He’s just another standard "movie" serial killer who kind of comes across as big sissy.
The movie has one great idea but it misses the mark. At one point Josh is playing a "Virtual Reality" game and the killer appears in the game to mess with him. Fun concept, poor execution. For some reason, when Josh is in the game, his face is pasted on the computerized man he controls. Cheezy!!!! And when the killer shows up he looks human, wearing his clothes. Visually that’s pretty boring. How about having him come in, looking like a digitized devil, or the Kentucky Fried Chicken kernel…anything!!!!
Talahay does manage some minor suspense (hand in a thrash compacter) but it never lasts for long cause we don’t care about the characters. The pacing sometimes lag and the end is a ridiculous mess. First off I doubt the place they go to (I wont spoil it ) wouldn’t have any security and having one of the characters blurt out "this place has no security, cause it’s no big deal" (he says something like that) before entering a massive, impressive technological compound makes it even more silly. Another thing, all films don't have to end with an "effect" showcase. Here it does but it sacrifices common sense just to give us some eye candy. Just don't think too hard when you get to the finale, maybe you’ll buy it. Lets put this ghost in the garbage.
Average. We get a kool scene where this man gets microwaved (nice bubbles). A death by hand dryer and a bit of blood.
Karen Allen of "Raiders Of The Lost Arc" fame does good with what she’s given. I had forgotten about her and it was nice to see her again. She holds her own and is very credible. Too bad we just don't care about her. Chris Mulkey (Bram) walks through this one, not passing go and collecting that paycheck. To be fair his part is very underwritten. Ted Marcoux (Karl) doesn’t bring anything new to the "serial killer" part. You’ve seen this performance a million times before. Will Horneff (Josh), well think a young "Corey Haim" if he tried to act black…enough said.
T & A
Does a computerized chick showing her boobs count? We also get some tease who shows her cleavage to minors for money…whatever.
Heavy handed. Some nice quick cuts and overhead shots. I love the scene where the killer is brought to the hospital on a gurney. It’s all about POV and crazy camera movements. Talalay really ups the style in this one. She brings a lot of energy to the film and it almost compensates for the weak script.
Some dated hip hop and an underused score by Graeme Revell (Crow fame).
Nice style, some nice effects. Does that make it worth renting? Not really I mean if you want style get John Woo’s "The Killer" and if you want visual effects rent "The Matrix"…again. The visual aspect of the film did grab me at first but then it’s impact softened and I realized I was watching a weak film. Give Talahay a better script next time…who knows? BTW I read an interview with Talahay where she claims that this film is not a horror movie. It’s a movie with horror scenes in it, it’s a techno thriller. That pisses me off. I hate when people spit on the hand that feeds them. What was Freddy’s Dead? A war epic!!! Ghost In The Machine is a weak thriller and a bad horror movie.
This film raked in $4.91 million dollars in the US of A.