Death of a Ghost Hunter (Sean Tretta, 2007)
I really wanted to like Death of a Ghost Hunter, the first feature from Sean Tretta; the next year, he released The Death Factory Bloodletting, a slasher flick that never takes itself too seriously and ends up being a stupidly good time because of it. This movie, however, does not have that same attribute, while richly needing it; while it does have a few good-but-predictable twists, Tretta was still finding his cinematic feet here, and the end result is somewhat less than it should have been.
Death of a Ghost Hunter is the story of Carter Simms (Machined‘s Patti Tindall), a paranormal investigator who’s been hired to check out a house notorious for the mass murder of the family who lived there twenty years ago. When she and her cameraman Colin (Mike Marsh, who returned for The Death Factory Bloodletting) arrive, they discover an unpleasant surprise waiting for them in the form of Yvette (The Devil’s Playhouse‘s Davina Joy), an investigative reporter who’s as interested to get the full story on Carter Simms as she is to find out whether the house is haunted. As if that’s not enough, a “spiritual advisor”, Mary (Lindsay Page in her only screen appearance to date), shows up later the first night to do some Bible-thumping. It’s a motley crew indeed, almost as if the homeowner hand-picked these folks to play off one another. (You saw this more recently in Episode 50.) When creepy things start happening, the crew try to get to the bottom of what actually happened in the house and whether there are ghosts haunting it.
There are some very interesting pieces to this plot (warning: the backstory of the house ends up containing a lot of triggering stuff), and Tretta, in his first collaboration with screenwriter Mike Marsh, had some good ideas about where to go. Both of those upsides were hamstrung by the obviously low budget they were working with and the caliber of some of the acting (there’s a reason, one assumes, Page has only ever appeared in one movie). Given that Tretta has since shown himself capable of better when he’s got even a slightly larger budget, it might be an interesting exercise for, say, Megan Ellison to toss fifty grand at him and see what a remake of this would look like with some professional actors (and a few better effects). What’s here is heavy on potential, light on execution. **