The unsuspecting family renting a remote old house in Scotland quickly fall afoul of whatever lurks within its walls and the dark places in the opening sequence of Ghosts of Darkness, with possession and bloody murder following soon after. In addition to this, the house has an at-least 200 year history of similarly unfortunate ends for many of its occupiers. This understandably puts other potential buyers off taking on the house. To this end, the current owner tasks two experts in their fields to either disprove talk of hauntings or to put a stop to whatever evil is resident.
First up is Jack (Koltes), an American and a noted debunker of the supernatural. To balance this, he’s paired up reluctantly with the flamboyant Jonathan Blazer (Flannery), a British psychic who claims there’s nothing supernatural he can’t deal with. Both are offered $50,000 to stay for three nights (because it’s the longest anyone has ever lasted) and ‘prove’ there’s nothing spooky going on, a publicity stunt to help shake the reputation of the house once and for all.
Jack has his high-tech gizmos and sets out to do the job, determined to confirm there’s no such thing as ghosts, at least not in this house. Blazer meanwhile is very much a showman of the old school and even though he could take his paid holiday, his enthusiasm (and a bit of competition with Jack) leads him to light candles, dig out the spirit board and try to make contact. Of course we know something is happening following the opening demise of the family, so it’s no surprise when Jack and Blazer discover this haunting is the real deal.
Made for almost nothing, Ghosts of Darkness is pretty much a two-hander (minus spooks). Koltes plays the rational ghost hunter with a tragic past as the straight man. Flannery is a comedian who, amongst other things, has revived classic kids' show Knightmare for the stage, and he has a ball as the sarcastic, quipping (but with his own layers) Blazer. Writer and director David Ryan Keith takes great pleasure in referencing the loud, at times overblown but never less than trashily enjoyable, horrors of both the 1960s and 1980s.
Perhaps due to that, it’s bordering on cheesy at times, occasionally hindered by it’s low budget, and never really scary as a horror film. Despite this, it has a commendable ambition to simply entertain and benefits greatly from its two central performances. It might be all those things we just mentioned, but it’s also hugely likeable, frequently funny, and importantly a good time. Don’t expect anything revolutionary, but if it finds you in the right mood it’s great fun, closing credits rock song included.
GHOSTS OF DARKNESS / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DAVID RYAN KEITH / STARRING: MICHAEL KOLTES, PAUL FLANNERY, STEVE WESTON / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 2017