Friday, December 9, 2011

Ghostwatch (1992)

I love when people get upset. I just f**king love it. Why? Because I’m one of those that can be quite easily upset because of nothing, and I know violent stream of energy, power of live, that flows through your mind and body during such a thing. But I also learned to be very critical and not believe everything I see, read and hear – which sometimes borders to paranoia. That’s why I love mockumentaries. It mixes a genre I adore, documentary, with fantasy, imagination – stuff that boring people people without humor hate. When you look at Ghostwatch today I’m quite sure it wouldn’t fool so many, except the very naïve, but that’s of course because TV has changed a lot since then. But what still a fact is that Ghostwatch is a damn fine TV-drama made to look like a live broadcast starring the one and only Michael Parkinson.

From BBC's studio Michael Parkinson and paranormal expert Dr Lin Pascoe (Gillian Bevan) leads the investigation of a haunted house at Foxhill Drive. In the house they have reporter Sarah Greene who’s there to check all the weird stuff happening and outside is comedian, actor and TV-host Craig Charles (more known from Red Dwarf and Robot Wars) interviewing the neighborhood. The family, consisting of a mother and two daughters, has been terrorized by an unknown entity for several years and now is the time to prove what the hell is going on. From the start everything is cute and cuddly, a bit funny, innocent – but everything takes a turn when one of the daughters is caught faking a haunting – but then it takes another turn, and it’s all for the worst…

Ghostwatch is a fantastic example of how to manipulate the audience. Every turn, every part of the dialogue is there to create the viewer’s road to complete belief. Just when something seems a bit too far-fetched, the filmmakers add something that will bring us back to that this could be the reality. What makes it stronger is the presence of Michael Parkinson as the TV-host, sitting there being fatherly and friendly, a bit neutral in the chaos, and this nice old man is slowly getting drawn into pure hell! The actors are also very good, and the dialogue never gets to hammy or unrealistic. Sarah Green and Craig Charles is also friendly, loved, TV-profiles, which makes it even harder watching them being scared shitless by the ghost known as “Pipes”.

To add to the paranoia created by BBC, the ghost makes several cameo appearances during the show, and all of them are ignored – or not seen – by the hosts and witnesses. A British family, spellbound by what they see on the telly, would probably react, discuss and maybe even call to the hotline telling what they’ve seen. By planting one of these ghosts in the beginning everyone knows that they should look out for more.

If Ghostwatch had been an American production we would have seen a classic happy ending. But here’s no such thing. The show just breaks and leaves the audience alone… at least until the credits comes and tells everyone this is just a bluff.

Paranormal Activity might be more famous, but if you want to see the beginning of it all, buy Ghostwatch on DVD and watch it during one of those dark winter nights together with the rest of the family. You won’t regret it.

1 comment:

Rich Flannagan said...

I remember watching this live, and the acting was so poor that it was an obvious hoax. While the programme wasn't too good, the reaction to it was fascinating.