After their father disappears with a case of beer and most of the joint account money and divorce ensues, Amanda and Adam are uprooted from Michigan by their mother Carol to head to suburban Chicago. Carol needs to work and the promise of a job finds them moving into a Victorian house near the city. Adam settles in quickly, his oddness and various affectations that make him sound like a old man and thesaurus at the same time seemingly making him popular in their new school. Amanda meanwhile is no longer on the cheer squad, no longer a cool kid and finds herself struggling to adjust and fit in. When you add to that the noises and weird things that happen in the new home, Amanda starts to think not only does her new life suck, it might be haunted too by the titular spirit.
Teenage Ghost Punk (from writer and director Mike Cramer) is a family-friendly story of ghostly happenings. It’s rough around the edges with the low budget showing in respect of pacing and performances. The film is, much like teenagers can be, frequently awkward and ungainly. However, it’s all so good natured that it’s hard to dislike, and though the rating below might seem harsh, it takes a balance of the good and bad here. As with many similar stories that place teenage characters at the centre, the supernatural aspects are really only window-dressing to a tale of angst and the desire to be accepted, to find a place in life. As Amanda finds out her home’s ghost isn’t all that scary and grows closer to him the looming impossibility of their situation comes into play and of course, lessons are obviously learned.
Grace Madigan makes for a charming lead. Much of the film’s success would rely on her engaging and convincing as the initially sceptical Amanda and it’s her reactions to events that give the film its heart. The other characters tend to be much closer to caricatures but there’s some decent support from some of the cast for Madigan, though Adria Dawn as Carol gets lumbered with something that’s more than a little sad, when you think about it. It’s really very much aimed at an audience closer in age to the two adolescent leads or truthfully even younger and so it’s blunt rather than sophisticated, not just in terms of drama but the humour involved too and certainly cheesy with it. Having said that there’s plenty of gags throughout, with some discreetly aimed at the parents watching the silliness involving the friendly neighbours and an inept ghost hunting squad. Limited, undemanding and slight certainly, but ultimately sweet and inoffensive.
TEENAGE GHOST PUNK / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MIKE CRAMER / STARRING: GRACE MADIGAN, COURTNEY BLOMQUIST, ADRIA DAWN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW