It wasn't that long ago that the Indianapolis local television community lost a legend - Sammy Terry, a longtime host of late night horror whose show had been gone for years yet whose legend remained through special events, appearances, and quite a bit more. In a rather interesting twist of events considering this very film, Sammy Terry's real life son has picked up where his father left off and continues to make appearances as the creepy, campy, and deliriously wonderful Sammy Terry.
Writer/director Kurt Larson's Son of Ghostman captures the quietly delirious joy of having such a late night, or in this case internet, presence in one's community and it's clear from the film's earliest moments that Larson understands what made folks like Sammy Terry and others so incredibly popular and with such a loyal fan base.
Denny (Devin Ordoyne) is a 30ish single guy whose girlfriend has just left him and whose brother wants to sell the family house in which Denny still lives but is behind on rent. Pretty much the only thing Denny has that keeps him inspired is the presence of such a late night legend, Ghostman, but even Ghostman is in danger of being replaced when an up-and-comer going by the name of Count Dracool (Larson) becomes hellbent on taking his place and manages to attract the attention of a national cable producer interested in giving him a shot.
At first playing around late one night, Denny invents the character Son of Ghostman, whose make-up kind of suggests Beetlejuice, or is that Betelgeuse, and whose persona suggests a surprisingly humane inhumane character. When a youth from the neighborhood, Zack (Matthew Boehm), finds him passed out in front of his house the next day, he sneaks a peek of the tape and uploads it to Youtube.
Of course, it goes viral.
Denny begins working with Zack and longtime friend Carlo (Marlon Correa) to bring Son of Ghostman even more to life while also not so secretly becoming interested in Zack's aunt, Claire (Angela Gulner).
Behind a winning performance by lead Devin Ordoyne, whose Son of Ghostman is funny and charming and sweet and playfully horrifying, Son of Ghostman manages to play just the right notes in resting comfortably within that indie horror/comedy vibe that can be so desperately difficult to achieve. As much as the film captures that retro local horror vibe quite nicely, it also manages to feel an awful lot like one of those gently funny, super laid back 80's comedies with likable but not particularly complex characters with whom you enjoy taking a 90-minute cinematic journey. Denny's the kind of guy that you simply can't help liking, and Ordoyne adds more depth than you might expect but growing his strength as the film plays out and making his relationships meaningful.
Among the supporting players, Matthew Boehm and Angela Gulner shine the brightest with performances that exude an earthy charm that draws you in and really never lets you go. At times, Boehm plays Zack as a rather snarky young man but he never allows the character to become a caricature and instead invests him with quite a bit of authentic humanity. As Claire, Angela Gulner is an absolute delight with a performance that gives the film a solid foundation and an emotional resonance. There really isn't a weak link in the ensemble cast, no small accomplishment given the challenges that come with producing a microcinema effort.
As is true of most low-budget indies, Son of Ghostman occasionally has some minor tech issues including some slight sound mix issues in spots and a couple of edits that aren't quite as smooth as one would like. These are, however, minor quibbles that don't distract from the film's overall impact. The film, self-distributed through Vimeo and Createspace, actually benefits at times from being a lower-budgeted effort as it complements the film's subject matter incredibly well. Son of Ghostman also features rather delightfully compiled lo-fi music that really helps to set the mood and keep the pace going.
For more information on Son of Ghostman, visit the film's website and take the leap by supporting an up-and-coming indie filmmaker.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic