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A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS (2022)
Directed and written by Isaac Rodriguez.
Starring Andrew C. Fisher, Mandy Lee Rubio, Keekee Suki, Ali Alkhafaji, Lauren Lox, Mike Dell, Isaac Rodriguez, and Sarah Froelich as the Burnt Woman!
Find out more about this film here!
Mark (Andrew C. Fisher) and his wife Jenna (Mandy Lee Rubio) have invested all of their money into refurbishing a ghost town called Blackwood Falls. What they don’t know is that the expansive, abandoned town has a dark and violent history. Attempting to gain additional funds and advertising, Mark is streaming the entire experience on his YouTube channel which captures Mark’s growing obsession with the town and the escalating paranormal occurrences happening around him.
Yes, this is a found footage film and it’s not a perfect film. But I will admit, despite its problems, A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS made me jump back in my seat more than once. This occurred mostly in the maze sequences. The town itself has a fence maze in one of its corners and while the scares were predictable, I still couldn’t avoid a foreboding feeling of creep as Mark turned blind corners leading into the darkest parts of the maze. Say what you will about the found footage genre, but I still fall for it as it places me just a little closer to the action. Incorporating the maze is the most effective part of A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS. Reminiscent of a haunted attraction maze where you have no idea what is lurking around the corner, these scenes are the scariest of the film. One of the cooler shots is from a drone which hovers over the maze, giving the viewer a look at it from above and seeing people move around the maze. It’s this type of shot that I feel A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS should have had more of.
That said, there are a ton of problems with A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS. It incorporates music and sound effects in moments that it couldn’t feasibly be there. These are videos produced for Mark’s YouTube page, but there is no mention of any additional editing being done. I’ve said it before and I’ll scream it again, if you feel the need to add in piano bangs, music bursts, and thunderous sound effects to your found footage film, then you obviously don’t have any faith in the scares and story. It’s a surefire way of instantly shooing your viewer out of that edgy area filled with suspension of disbelief—a concept amplified by the choice of shooting in a found footage format. The more hands on the film that we are watching, the less legitimate it feels, which is a killer for found footage films.
But the technical effects are the least of A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS problems. The biggest is that the film is full of huge dramatic leaps. It seems this group has been in town for about three days. That doesn’t give the story much time for a believable descent into madness. But they attempt to do it anyway. Characters begin to distrust Mark way too quickly, including his wife, who confesses that Mark isn’t the person she fell in love with since entering the town. Another character professes that she is spooked out from being there, though we are never given the scene where she is actually spooked. Mark himself leaps from somewhat sane and enthusiastic investor to full blown, Jack Torrence madman stalking his loved ones with an axe through the maze. It’s these lost moments of transition that are definitely lacking from the story and necessary for it to feel natural and believable.
For the most part, A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS suffers the typical found footage symptoms. Not enough happens in the first half, leading to a mad dash of people panicking and running around, and all culminating with a burst of supernatural towards the end. There’s a direct rip-off of BLAIR WITCH PROJECT at the end and the whole thing seems to wrap up so quickly, you wonder how you got there in the first place. There are attempts at jump scares throughout as the film flashes back and forward to past and upcoming ghost attack scenes in snippets, but this again breaks the believability of the film we are seeing and making it feel less authentic.
A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS is a little over an hour long. So much room could have been left to make the transitions in character more believable. As a result, it is hard to really get to know and like these characters, especially Mark, who ends up looking like a complete loser by the end of the film. Breaking some of the fundamental laws of making the footage feel authentically found is another big mistake A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS makes. While I did jump a few times and the drone shots of the maze were effective, that’s about all the positives I can muster for A TOWN FULL OF GHOSTS.