Ghost Machine : Release Year - 2009
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Overall Rating : 5.5/10

Directed By : Chris Hartwill

Sean Faris (Never Back Down)
Rachael Taylor (Transformers)
Luke Ford (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)
Joshua Dallas (The Descent: Part 2)

Supplied By : Anchor Bay Entertainment

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : December. 15, 2009

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PLOT
A group of young U.S. military techs borrow a top-secret combat simulator for a weekend of unauthorized gaming. But when they set up the system inside an abandoned prison used for the torture of post-9/11 prisoners, they discover that someone or something has uploaded itself into their A.I. software. A deadly new player has now joined the game: How do you survive the final level of lock-and-load virtual reality when escape is impossible, slaughter is uncontrollable and the enemy is unstoppable? The ultimate battle begins inside the GHOST MACHINE.
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THE REVIEW
The latest film to take focus on one popular current trend, gaming, is this low budget sci-fi actioner, GHOST MACHINE. In the film, a group of young military decide to borrow some equipment from the base for the weekend, for a little gaming fun. The equipment in question is a highly powerful and realistic combat simulator developed and designed to train military forces. With the help of a friend who is a security guard(and also former military), the group of friends are able to smuggle the program into the nearby base prison - and once there, their fun begins. Since the secret program is a highly "surroundings sensitive" one it is able to map and replicate the prison, so, at their disposal, not only do they have realistic enemies to combat themselves against, they also have an environment that matches the location in which they are located. The ones whom play the simulator are placed within a world in which the line between fantasy and reality is thin, so once the group here gets a taste of it, they essentially can't get enough. And just like any story that involves the abuse of power, of course something is bound to go wrong....and wrong it does, when an uninvited guest is uploaded to the game. In the end, our players find that what was supposed to be fun, just might cost them their lives when a vengeful ghost targets them for revenge. With the hooded female ghost, who is armed with a deadly chain killing everything in it's path, it looks as if the players are trapped which leaves the ones that are administering the machine to try and quickly find a way to shut it down. But this proves not to be easy as the machine is under the ghosts total control.

Just by the DVD's cover art and it's plot listed on the back, one's first assumptions would be that this film, is directly in the vein of a film like STAY ALIVE and the most recent GAMER. I'll be honest and say that when I first read the plot, I thought that the story could have the potential to be quite interesting, but I knew that my dislike for really heavy technology-themed sci-fi films, like PULSE, could make GHOST MACHINE a film that I could very well not care much for. But are it turns out, this film turned out to be a fairly decent one, not great, but decent overall. I mean, the plot is pretty obvious; a group of friends steal equipment that they're not supposed to have...of course something is going to go wrong. Well, it does drag ro get to that point, but however, when it does, the story somehow manages to stay interesting. With the use of above average effects for the budget, the filmmakers are able to create a rather fun "virtual reality" that serves as the film's stage. Unlike many stories of this type, GHOST MACHINE has a story that actually progresses rather than dragging on with nothing more than an idea. It does this with the introduction of our ghost, who actually looks cool, not to mention that they gave her a back-story that is not too complex and actually believable to a certain extent. It also throws in a few twists and turns, some of which are more obvious than others, but nonetheless, it doesn't truly bore you too much.

GHOST MACHINE seems to have been a small production, with no big sets and a small cast, as it stays primarily in one location throughout. But with this said, the film has some pretty good special effects to create the computer simulations and such, which is where i'm guessing that most of the budget went to - however it works in the film's favor. The acting wasn't spectacular, but the cast does, do it's job of creating decent characters. The top billed cast members, Sean Faris Rachael Taylor and Luke Ford do with their roles the best that they can, especially Faris and a less featured Taylor, who always seems to be stuck with less prominent roles(ie TRANSFORMERS), but still somehow manages to make an impression.

As I said prior, i'm not a big fan of films in which technology are the basis. Films like PULSE, ONE MISSED CALL and SHUTTER, i'm just not a big fan, for whatever reason, but with GHOST MACHINE, I do have to admit that I was fairly surprised to find that it's really not all that bad.
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GORE METER
4.5/10 Most of the gore and blood in is very CGI and "virtual" looking while other times, it's more practical, there are multiple gunshot wounds, along with things such as an eye being shot out and a bloody chain strangulation.
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MUSICAL SCORE
3.5/10 As for the score, nothing really stood out to me. It's mostly made up of your typical ambiances and suspenseful bangs and crashes.
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OVERALL IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
In the beginning, I was expecting GHOST MACHINE to be another dry and boring "machine taking over" type of story, but instead the film is one that puts an interesting twist on some familiar things. While this film isn't great per se, it's a decent effort, and is definitely worth checking out if you enjoy films of this type.

This DVD will be released December 22, 2009
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STILLS


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