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THE GHOST LIGHTS (2022)
Directed and written by Timothy Stevens.
Starring Katreeva Phillips, Ryan Bijan, Billy Blair, Timothy Stevens, Madison Calhoun, John Francis McCullagh
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After absent-mindedly missing her father’s funeral, Alex (Katreeva Phillips) returns to the home of her father, Brian (Ryan Bijan), and discovers a tape recorder labeled “The Ghost Lights.” Eager to hear her lost father’s voice and sniffing a story, the young journalist decides to follow the trail and try to complete her father’s investigations into strange lights that appear in the West Texas skies. But the closer Alex gets, the stranger things get; including a Man in Black (Timothy Stevens) who is following her everywhere.
THE GHOST LIGHTS is a very slow drama with horror and sci fi elements. I wouldn’t say it’s the most thrilling of films. Much of the time is spent with Alex driving in her car or sitting around in her hotel listening to her father’s tapes. The rest of the time is spent in flashback with her father Brian interviewing an eyewitness (Billy Blair) in a bar. There are moments of intrigue and tension as a Man in Black pursues Alex on her journey to find the ghost lights, but the bulk of this film is dialog heavy.
And that’s fine. Most of the interview portions are interesting enough. Being a fan of UFO and paranormal phenomena, I have listened to plenty of interviews of eyewitnesses to all kinds of strange events. And I guess that’s going to be the target audience of this low budgeter. There are a few X-FILES-esque scenes where Alex runs away from the Man in Black, but unfortunately, these scenes aren’t anything different than something one has seen many times before.
What distinguishes this film from the rest are the performances by both Katreeva Phillips and Ryan Bijan as father and daughter investigators separated by time. While reminiscent of the short “Father’s Day” segment of the anthology HOLIDAYS, I was wrapped up with the drama unfolding as the Alex tries to retrace her father’s steps in the investigation. Both actors do a good job of commanding the attention of the viewer and it’s the strength of Alex’s conviction to get to the truth that kept my interest going.
There is a strong emotional core to THE GHOST LIGHTS that is its most accomplished factor. It’s a story of a daughter seeking solace in the death of her father and her willingness to do anything to accomplish that. The effects are decent as well, effectively communicating the strange titular phenomena even though they are minimally used. Pack a big bag of patience and you might find yourself digging this dramatically heavy, yet horror/sci fi light thriller.