Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
May 1st, 2004

Ghosts Don't Exist

Ghosts Don't Exist
Directed by Eric Espejo
Written by Eric Espejo
Starring Phillip Roebuck, Devon Marie Burt, Joe Hansard, Josh Davidson
90 mins

Now, when a movie decides to title itself in a fashion like this--Ghosts Don't Exist--you might well expect that such an inflammatory statement against a common fictional homicidal plot device might well take exception to this, on a strange meta level, and thus run amok in a loud, grotesque manner that suggests imminent doom is on the way for everyone in the movie. That's not quite what you're going to get here, but Ghosts Don't Exist will bring a surprising new twist to the picture.

Ghosts Don't Exist takes us out to a ghost hunter who's about to retire from the game. But before he does, he's going to take on just one last case, as more of a personal favor than anything. But what he'll find during the course of that one last case is going to be a lot more than he bargained for.

The weird part about Ghosts Don't Exist is that a lot of it is a come-on. There are strange things cropping up all throughout the movie. Lots of bumps in the night, lots of strange shadows rushing by and unaccountable noises echoing throughout the target location. And things will get progressively worse throughout the movie. You might think that nothing's going to happen after the first hour goes sliding by with precious little more than you'd see in an episode of Ghost Hunters, but you'd miss out on a whole lot of action, including an escalating body count, which is something of a surprise. It's going to take a while to really get going, though when it does get going, it's going to go pretty well indeed. And even the ride getting up to its surprisingly robust conclusion is worthwhile.

The ending, meanwhile, leaves behind a few unanswered questions and a bizarre explanation for at least some of what we're seeing here. It's strange, but still pretty worthwhile to watch.

There are no special features on this one at all. No subtitles, trailers, or anything but a movie and a chapter menu.

All in all, Ghosts Don't Exist is a strange little package. It's reasonably scary, and oddly entertaining, but not without some significant flaws in its own right. A disturbing description in its own right, but no less accurate for the disturbing, Ghosts Don't Exist is a bizarre title that still manages toinclude some worthwhile bits to it.

Ju-On: White Ghost Black Ghost

JU-ON: White Ghost Black Ghost
120 mins

Now, most horror buffs are already quite well aware of Ju-On: The Grudge. So seeing the name likely sparks at least a visceral reaction for you. But what you may not be aware of is that, in Japan, Ju-On: The Grudge is merely part of a much, much larger franchise. Ju-On is kind of like The Twilight Zone in Japan, with a variety of different titles to its credit, and some of them only viscerally related. Today we've got the latest one on tap for you, Ju-On: White Ghost - Black Ghost.

Ju-On: White Ghost - Black Ghost brings us a set of stories (with different actors, directors and writers) set at least somewhat in the Grudge universe, following a murderous son who kills everyone in the house after failing the bar exam, and a nurse who finds herself dealing with a baby grudge in the making. Everyone's going to have a tough time figuring out their own way to get around the Grudge, and not all of them will survive their encounters with it.

I say "at least somewhat" because the Saeki Murders, which have been a staple of the Ju-On series, will only get a brief mention. But for those of you who can't get enough Toshio, that spindly little bastard will occasionally crop up.

You can look for plenty of jump scares here involving sunken-faced old women who make horrible croaking noises before throwing themselves headlong at their chosen victims. But one thing you likely won't find here is a lot of coherence. In grandest Japanese tradition, this is a massively creepy affair, but large parcels of it won't make any real sense. It's going to be scary, of course--phenomenally so; I haven't seen this many good jump scares in a movie in quite some time--but it will not be very long on making sense. And yet, at the same time, this is an advantage. It makes no sense. Nothing here makes sense. It's impossible to predict what will happen next--wait for a shot of the murderous son going after his father with a baseball bat. I had to rewind it three times to acknowledge that it REALLY HAPPENED.

Since this is made up of multiple stories that are only slightly related, there isn't really an ending to this movie.

The special features include audio options and English subtitles, which is good as the whole movie is in Japanese.

All in all, Ju-On: White Ghost - Black Ghost is a surprisingly robust horror endeavor, which is long on scary but short on sense. If you're looking to be scared, look no further, but if you want your scares to make sense, this is not where you need to be.

"The Thing."