Ghost Gate

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 07/18/07 16:09:32

"Where do they find this junk?"
1 stars (Sucks)

The Japanese horror boom isn’t over quite yet, not as long as smaller distribution companies are still snatching up any related title they can find. There’s not much left, however, so it’s all a matter of scraping the bottom of the barrel, and when that runs dry, lifting the barrel to see what’s underneath.

Which leads us to “Ghost Gate,” an unwatchable cheapjack mess arriving Stateside thanks to Laguna Productions, a company that specializes in video releases for the Latino market; this is one of two titles (the second being the equally awful “Demon Hunting”) recently acquired by them in an attempt to branch out into other genres. Information on the film proved nearly impossible to find online (IMDB has no listing), so we enter the review with no guide to lead us through the wilderness.

Best as I can figure it, “Ghost Gate” involves a group of teens who break into a haunted mansion in hopes of solving an old murder mystery, something about a fifty million yen reward. I say “best as I can figure it” because the film is quite indecipherable - there aren’t scenes here, just a collection of half-assed ideas that, when stapled together, crudely resemble something of a story.

Those ideas are a hodgepodge of stale ghost story gimmicks so ineptly handled - is it possible for them to be quarter-assed? - that we’d laugh if we weren’t so busy being bored out of our mind. The filmmakers, shooting on low-rent video, combine poor framing with sloppy editing; the cast, then, emphasizes every ounce of the badness on hand by tripping over their own performances. In a movie this low budget, made up of 99 percent reaction shots and only 1 percent actual image of something “frightening,” solid performances are essential. Here, with acting this lousy, it becomes an endurance test: how long can we watch these idiots go all bug-eyed and panicky at something off-screen?

There’s a desperation that lingers over the entire production, noticeable whenever the script realizes that one hackneyed J-horror idea isn’t working, so, hey, let’s try another one! We bounce from creepy ghosts hiding in corners to blood-covered ghouls popping out of nowhere to (in the film’s most insane recurring bit) a shot of a woman in the woods covered in a gooey white substance, crying and screaming. Okay, then.

The movie gets its crap together long enough to toss us what’s supposed to be a shocking twist ending. But then the script spends way too much time explaining the twist, then explaining it again, then walking into another room to explain it yet again. Cap this off with, of all things, a music video highlighting the “best” scenes from the movie. No kidding.

It’s all a dreadful bore, from its amateurish production values to its nonexistent plotline to its cringe-inducing cast. “Ghost Gate” is crummy through and through. To a movie like this, the bottom of the barrel would be a vast improvement.

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