Review: Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails

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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.

Ellen Murray

12A (See IFCO for details)

98 minutes
Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails is released 2nd October 2015

Ghosthunters: On Icy Trails – Official Website

 

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On The Reel At The IFTAs

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Lynn Larkin (second left) closes in on Fassbender’s IFTA

On the Reel’s Lynn Larkin, in association with Film Ireland, hits the red carpet in her blue guna and and gets in among the celebs at the Irish Film and Television Awards ceremony, which took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton venue in Dublin 4 on Saturday, 5th April 2014.

Check out the video below and get the low-down on the night from Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Liam Cunningham, Will Forte, Mary Murray, Amy Huberman,  Andrew Scott, Fionnula Flanagan, Antonia Campbell-Hughes

 

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DVD Review: A Film With Me in It

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A Film with Me in It is a black comedy directed by Ian Fitzgibbon (Spin the Bottle, Perrier’s Bounty) and written by Mark Doherty who stars as the central character, a down and out actor living with his long suffering girlfriend (Amy Huberman). Along with his alcoholic writer/director/waiter friend played by comedian Dylan Moran and his paraplegic brother (David O’Doherty), they carve out a bleak existence in their run down flat, sea-side benches and local pubs in Dublin.

Mark and Pierce are both unemployed and have grand plans to produce the next big blockbuster. Then, their lives are changed through a series of unfortunate accidents that befall those who enter the flat. Mark looks to Pierce for advice and the two friends attempt to figure out a way of dealing with their predicament, musing over possible explanations as though they were coming up with ideas for films.

The influences of Withnail & I and Shaun of the Dead are evident in both the style and content and similar to these films, the dynamic between the two main characters is central. There are some great comedic moments and Moran’s performance stands out, particularly in a scene where he attempts to introduce himself at an alcoholics anonymous meeting. Mark and Pierce’s attempt to re-write the day’s events as different film plots frames the storyline well and the film is bookended by amusing cameos. Doherty’s sad clown and Moran’s amoral alcoholic are mostly well delivered but can be so deadpan that the dialogue between them occasionally fell flat.

The story is clever but the dramatic tension and the comedy do not build as expected once the accidents begin. The pace is slow moving at the point when it should be the most absorbing part of the film. The film uses extreme high and low camera angles and the tone is dominated by blue and grey hues in the style of a high concept thriller. This style follows on from the successful pastiching of Hollywood film appropriated by Shaun of the Dead, but in this case, the style conflicts with the storyline. These elements appear to be the director’s attempt to create the tension and excitement that is missing in the action of the film.

Overall it is entertaining and has its comedic moments but the forced style and lack of chemistry between the two main characters at the most crucial points leaves a potentially strong story unrealised.

Extras include a making of documentary.

Soracha Pelan Ó Treasaigh

A Film with Me in It is released on DVD  on 30th September
• Format: Import, PAL, Widescreen
• Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
• Language English
• Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo
• Region: All Regions
• Studio: Parallel Film Productions
• Run Time: 83 minutes

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