Thursday, February 4, 2010


A moderately ambitious if ultimately disposable sci-fi/horror exercise, 2009's GHOST MACHINE was recently released on DVD by Anchor Bay.

The plot is very simple: a group of soldiers decide to use an expensive and highly-sophisticated virtual reality combat simulator to play unsanctioned war games. Unfortunately, once inside its simulated environment (an empty - and thus cheap for film producers to rent - prison), they encounter the literal "ghost in the machine," a vengeful entity that can manipulate the violent "game" with decidedly fatal consequences.

Directed by Chris Hartwell, this Irish-made indie has a fairly polished look and the extensive CGI effects are just passable. The generally unknown cast is adequate - and female lead Rachael Taylor is very attractive - but the script is utterly predictable and overly familiar. As I've said before, I'm not much for video games myself, and I'm especially bored watching other people play them. Watching this movie was uncomfortably similar to watching someone else play DOOM or its equivalent, and just as emotionally uninvolving.

Anchor Bay's DVD is up to their usual high standards, with a sharp, if a bit dark, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There's a behind the scenes featurette, an interview with screenwriter Sven Hughes, and the trailer.

Overall, I was unimpressed. It's professionally enough made - especially for a low-budget genre piece - but it's nothing special. Your mileage may vary.

BUY: Ghost Machine