I had the opportunity to attend San Diego’s FANtastic Horror Film Festival on Friday, October 29, 2015, where I was able to see Ghost Walk Studios and Director Steve Olander’s film “Ghost Walk: The Farm.” Horror House Party extends sincere thanks to the FANtastic Horror Film Festival’s Directors, Beloved Party Guests JoAnn and Mike Thomas, for access to the Festival and its programming. (Read our complete review policy.)
Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk. A “spoiler-free” look at “Ghost Walk: The Farm” can be found in the news section.
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The FANtastic Horror Film Festival opened with a classic touch when it screened “Ghost Walk: The Farm” as its first film of 2015. The film, which was written by Beloved Party Guest Rocky Karlage and directed by Steve Olander, is a classic ghost story of a haunted farm that hides family secrets.
The film begins with an almost Lovecraftian introduction about a reclusive scholar (apparently the family patriarch) who locked himself in his home with arcane books until he was simply never seen again. Forward to the present, where newlywed couple Johnny and Estella Harper arrive at the house, revealed to be a family home currently in the care of Estella’s Aunt Lynne, to begin their honeymoon. For all Aunt Lynne’s generosity in providing the dwelling so the couple can have a secluded, uninterrupted honeymoon, something seems “off” about her from the beginning, and she is snippy and unpleasant to the bride for no apparent reason.
The couple arrives at the house and Estella contacts Aunt Lynne, advising her during the conversation that she has misplaced her mother’s (Aunt Lynne’s sister’s) locket. At first, the happy couple seems to be enjoying their time together – but that quickly evaporates when the couple begins seeing shadows and begins hearing strange sounds.
When Estella wakes up shivering from a dream and finds her mother’s “missing” locket – from which a spectral green light emanates – the newlyweds become almost frantic in their attempts to determine what is causing all the strange goings on. Johnny investigates outside and in the barn, getting attacked by a dog in the process. They attempt to establish contact through a Ouija board, with no success. Finally – VERY finally – they discover and investigate a secret room in the home, and Aunt Lynne finally gets her hands on her sister’s locket.
The film introduces newcomer John Chiara in an extremely believable performance as newlywed Army fly-boy Johnny Harper. Newcomer Leya Siri gets the IMDb credit as Estella Harper, although Producer Joe Quintanilla revealed at the screening that shooting delays resulted in Estella being played (seamlessly, I must add) by three different actresses; I have to admit I was totally unaware of the presence of multiple actresses until I was advised, after the screening, of the triple-casting. Finally, talented character actress Holly Neelie has a small, but important, supporting role as Aunt Lynn, who appears to be the only one in the family who understands the legacy of the heirloom locket which proves to be so important to the narrative.
There are a few problems with the film – some rough cuts, a muddy plot through-line. But as one of the first productions of the new Ghost Walk Studios, it is a stellar fledgling effort. The film garnered a Festival nomination for “Best Special Effects in a Feature Film,” and likely could have won if the film had the production budget of some of its more flush competitors. The film was also nominated for the award for “Best Sound Design in a Feature Film.” To that I would add my own resounding “Huzzah!” for the sound design and also the original musical score, both of which added a great deal to the film.
If you’re interested in the ghosts haunting Ohio, you might try one of the many books about the state’s large ghost population. Just one of these volumes, “Ghost Stories of Ohio” by Edrick Thay, takes you the strange world of Ohio’s paranormal legacy. You can read about an Egypt Pike man who spends his afterlife terrifying contented lovers who cross the bridge where he took his own life. Or read about the site of a horrific train wreck that claimed nearly 100 lives where the ghosts of victims return in search of answers. If these stories don’t catch your fancy, Amazon features a number of additional books about Ohio’s ghosts. Enjoy! – McC
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