Film Review: Judas Ghost
Director: Simon Pearce
Writer: Simon R. Green
Falling Shadows Productions 2013
Recently I was moderating a panel at Norwescon where one of the panelists was British novelist Simon R Green. I’ll admit I had know idea who he was, but he was funny, entertaining and knowledgeable. He was also smart enough to plug his movie, Judas Ghost, which was showing that evening.
Chatting with my friend Mickey, who was very familiar with Mr Green’s work, she suggested I check out some of his Ghost Finders novels. I figured that with ghost in the title there was a good chance that the movie Simon was presenting would tie in with the recommended novels. So I went…
… and I really enjoyed myself!
The film follows the members of a ghost handling team from The Carnacki Institute* on a mission that is being recorded for a training film. Of course things go all pear shaped and the team ends up in over their heads (literally in the case of one character).
Judas Ghost is a lovely piece of work, featuring a number of striking images, a few shocking moments, and distinctly good special effects for a production of this budget level.
The budget is moderate (at best) but wise choices were made in the conservation of location and cast. There’s just enough people to tell the story and just enough space to make the setting appropriately claustrophobic.
Because of these limitations Judas Ghost has that “filmed play” look that you often encounter with BBC television series. There are times when the flick feels like a bloodier Torchwood crossed with the smarts of Sapphire and Steel.
The script was written with the precision of a short story. Everything you need to understand the occult dilemma faced in the second and third act is presented in the first. Pay attention, the dialogue points the way of the story.
It isn’t a perfect film of course.
Hints of a romantic attraction between two of the characters falls flat and feels forced. And the pay off isn’t one of the films high points. The crack about pissing holy water is way out of tone with the rest of the movie. And, not one but two characters have Aha! moments where they actually say “I’ve got it.”
Aside from these bumps, Judas Ghost is well worth a watch.
Thoughts for gamers: the scenario presented in Judas Ghost is a perfect set up for a one shot or, depending how many of the team survive, the start of an ongoing campaign with The Carnacki Institute at it’s center.
You’ve got one location (with no way out), communications cut off, two different types/levels of monster to face and creepy imagery to describe. The movie even has bits of humor that seeps into every horror game.
*(if you’re unfamiliar with Carnacki the Ghost read more here: http://www.victorianadventureenthusiast.com/index/carnacki-the-ghost-finder/