It’s another in our glorious long line of “films that can be entirely described by their title”. I would lay good money on the mental image you have right now being about 75% correct, but if you have a bad imagination, read on.
Teenagers in a graveyard! (actually, I think that should be a SyFy Channel original movie title, or the name of a bad band) They witness their little island’s main memorial, to the people who died in 1912 due to a cult suicide, split by a lightning strike. The golden medallion falls off the front, and the GHOST STORM emerges, sucking the soul right out of a horny male teenager.
SyFy Channel original movies are a fascinating and varied bunch. They range from pretty bad to really bad, and the cast is all the way from C-list to Z-list. Not recognising a single name on the opening credits made me worried, but there are two faces in this film who this site’s readers will welcome – Sheriff Hal Miller is played by Carlos Bernard, who you may remember from “24” as third banana Tony Almeida; and “paranormal expert” Greg Goropolis is played bv Aaron Douglas, who was also the Chief on “Battlestar Galactica” (the new, good version). Both of them seem to be in a competition to see who can act the least, as well.
We’re also introduced to the latest in a new trend that seems to be sweeping low budget cinema – the estranged couple, raising a teenager, who are definitely going to get back together by the end (because women are just prizes for men who behave heroically, am I right?) “Sharknado” had them, and there are numerous other examples dotted throughout the “Mega X v. Giant Y” films. It’s just a cheap way of generating a central plot, and the kid in danger allows the parents a chance to bond (and the father to be a hero).
It turns out the “Ghost Storm”, which is more a large version of the smoke monster from “Lost” than it is a storm, is the collected souls of that 1912 tragedy, and the medallion was keeping them trapped in the earth. As it sucks up the souls of the townspeople in its path, turning their bodies to dust, it seems to gain power, but luckily there’s an innocent soul in there and innocent souls emit a different radio frequency than evil ones, which gives them a plan to rescue the town.
I was about to mention the other groups of people in the town – the Vicar with a spooky past, the grieving father, the amazing extra in the church scene who wildly overemotes to everything that goes on around her – but the death rate is so spectacularly high in this film that I don’t need to bother. What I do want to mention is the way that when you die, you apparently get to change your contact photo in the smartphones of your friends. If you’re fully a baddie, your contact photo will be all ugly with a demonic background, but if you’re someone’s boyfriend, your photo will be changed to you looking peaceful in front of rolling clouds. This is a bizarre and brilliant bit of the film.
Without revealing the ending, I will say that considering the staggering loss of life in the town, the survivors are far too jolly at the end. “Well, everyone we’ve ever known or loved is dead. Time for some kissing and laughing!” But, the film itself is definitely in the top tier of SyFy Channel originals. It looks pretty high budget, to the extent they may have borrowed the sets from some other production (perhaps SyFy’s “Haven”, as it’s set in a similar sort of town). No-one’s a really terrible actor, and it’s occasionally set outside, in the daylight, almost unheard of for one of these movies. It held my wife’s interest to the point she asked me to pause it while she was making herself a drink – again, almost unheard of.
I was going to make a joke about the way they pick the titles for these films, but when I saw “Metal Tornado” (the subject of my next review) it made me realise my joke is probably really close to the truth. Two buckets. One with the names of cool stuff in it – shark, ghost, metal; one with the names of natural disasters – earthquake, storm, tornado. Draw one word from each and boom! If you can make a cool compound word like “Sharknado” or “Arachnoquake” out of your words, do so, if not then just put them together and make a movie. I would bet £20, for real, that there’s at least one SyFy Channel movie that had a title picked that way.
Rating: 3 demon ghosts out of 10