DIR: Tobi Baumann • WRI: Tobi Baumann, Murmel Clausen, Mike O’Leary, Martin Ritzenhoff, Roland Slawik, Christian Tramitz • PRO: Oliver Schündler, Boris Ausserer • DOP: Thomas W. Kiennast • ED: Alexander Dittner • MUS: Lorne Balfe • DES: Christoph Kanter • MUS: Ralf Wengenmayr • CAST: Milo Parker, Anke Engelke, Bastian Pastewka, Amy Huberman
This film is terrible. No flowery language or generous concessions can redeem this film; it deserves neither. Badly made, badly written, and above all else badly acted, Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails is a film that insults the intelligence of its target audience. Even children previously unacquainted with the world of cinema will be left unimpressed with this unashamed attempt to pander to their age group. Possibly one of the worst films of 2015, it should be avoided at all costs.
Based on the popular children’s novel series by Caroline Funke (who, despite being a talented author, could not salvage the film’s script into something resembling a cohesive story), Tom Thompson (Parker) is a timid eleven-year-old struggling to overcome his reputation as a scaredy-cat within his family. After discovering a snot-green ghost named Hugo (Pastewka) lurking in his basement, Tom finds himself teaming up with an old ghost-hunting pro named Cuminseed (Engelke). Together, the three of them must track down the evil Ancient Ice Ghost (A.I.G) to save the world and prevent Hugo from dying- even though he’s already dead. Did I mention that this film makes absolutely no sense whatever?
One could argue that plot holes can be overlooked in a film made exclusively for young children, as they are unlikely to notice (or care about) the intricacies of the narrative. A lot of parents who bring their children to the cinema merely want to keep them distracted for an hour or two after all, quality be damned. But this is an unsound argument at best. First of all, in a film like this where logic is so overtly discarded, any child genuinely trying to engage with the story will notice and will more than likely find their viewing experience diminished because of it. Second of all, just because children’s brains are not yet fully developed enough to appreciate all aspects of art and culture doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve decent content. In fact, surely it means parents should demand it. This film embodies all the worst aspects of a kids film- it thinks it’s audience is dumb, so it doesn’t even try to be good. Indeed, at times it seems to obnoxiously luxuriate in how bad it is.
Clunky plotline aside, the production quality of the film is so below par that a first-year film student with an iPhone could have done a better job. The most obvious aspect of this, of course, is the CGI blob of phlegm that is Hugo. Clearly his designers were going for a cartoony look, which would make sense given the context of the film. However, it doesn’t change the fact that he is just ugly to look at. It’s like watching Slimer after he recovered from a whirl in a blender. To make matters worse the actors interactions with Hugo are distractingly uneven. Sometimes they are speaking to the space behind or beside Hugo rather than to Hugo himself. It never feels as though he is actually there on screen. Which is OK really, because he’s a horrendous character and the film never attempts to bridge an emotional connection between him and the audience.
The other characters are not much to shout about either. Tom is an annoying idiot, Cuminseed a stale caricature, and most of the side characters are need of psychiatric evaluation- mostly Tom’s parents. A book could be written on how bad the actors who played this child’s parents were. Though to be fair, their performances were undoubtedly hindered by the fact that all their dialogue was clearly added in using English voice actors in post-production. Seriously, all of their dialogue is out of sync. Words are being spoken, but their lips aren’t moving. You know, if you want to make a film in English, maybe hiring actors who speak the language would be a place to start. There are several other instances of badly dubbed in audio throughout the film, but it’s in the parent’s scenes where it’s most prevalent. It’s distracting to say the least, but also hilarious.
To reiterate this review’s opening statement – this is a terrible film, and all those who played a part in making it should feel terrible for unleashing it onto the world. Avoid like the plague.
12A (See IFCO for details)
Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails is released 2nd October 2015