A group of charlatan ghost hunters head to a haunted orphanage to record an episode of their show, S.P.I.T. (Spirit Paranormal Investigation Team) They allow a friend along to document their process, and end up talking about how they fake everything. I have no idea why they do this. Anyway, the orphanage turns out to actually be haunted and terrible things happen to this crew.
The movie opens with Mykelti Williamson as director of the FBI, very seriously stating how these tapes we’re about to watch were found at a crime scene, and how watching them means we’re part of the investigation, and yada yada. It was so sincere and ridiculous that I just had to laugh. Having a recognizable actor open the movie in that way made it even worse. There was no possibility of suspending disbelief. If I’m going to watch a found footage movie, I need to buy in that the events could possibly be real. Seeing Bubba Blue sit on a desk and tell me he’s with the FBI does not allow me to do that.
Then we get to meet our ghost hunters. And they’re terrible people. Just the worst. They’re fronted by Tim, who has one of the smuggest faces I’ve ever seen (which is odd, seeing as how he is played by Heed from So I Married an Axe Murderer). His right hand man – Roger – is a screaming ball of misogynist comments and terrible jokes, wrapped up in a man who has entirely too high an opinion of himself. Chad is also there. He is tall and blonde. Their producer – Julie – somehow sticks around even though Tim and Roger can’t stop saying terrible things to her. But I’m sure the paycheck for S.P.I.T. is more than worth it (there is no way this is true).
Harold is following them around with a camera and seems legitimately shocked that their “hauntings” are merely tricks to make it look like things are moving. At the helm of these tricks is Bill, played by the great Lance Henricksen. Have you ever wanted to see Henricksen’s hind quarters and part of his balls? Spoiler alert: you totally see all of that.
The S.P.I.T. show itself is horrendous. The awful script was only outdone by the awful performances. Everything was said with a dead-serious tone, while puns flew around like hotcakes. (Flying hotcakes, I guess?) I tried to imagine what it would be like to actually watch the show, and I ended up throwing items at my TV.
All that said…I think I kind of liked it.
This movie was not breaking any ground. It’s essentially the same movie as Grave Encounters, with a bit of The Last Exorcism thrown in.
I mentioned how the characters were insufferable, but that’s really just an old slasher trick. Create a cast of unlikable characters so you don’t feel bad when they are killed. And it worked. (To be fair, Tim and Roger were the only two I was actively rooting for to die.) Every time the lights flickered or there was a loud noise, I kept saying, “Please let Tim and Roger die soon.” I was basically Rob Corddry waiting for Crispin Glover’s arm to be severed in Hot Tub Time Machine. “This is it. THIS IS IT! Oh…false alarm. Just do it already, ghosts.”
The set-up dragged a bit, especially since we all know exactly where this movie was heading. The ghosts – including the ghost of a psychotic orphan known for slitting throats – were real and the crew would be trapped inside to be taunted and killed. But not before being haunted for hours. Soooo much haunting, you guys.
Even though I knew where it was heading, the payoff was still fun. Once all hell started to break loose, I had a good time. One member of the crew got possessed in a fairly confusing manner and decided murder would be fun. Other members of the crew ended up running aimlessly through the abandoned orphanage, saying nonsensical things like, “Let’s run to the roof to escape,” without any clear plan of what they would do if they were to actually reach the roof. Doors that were once locked became unlocked, and they ran into them to escape the ghosts in the hallway, not thinking there may be ghosts behind the locked doors as well. Panic and fear do terrible things to people. For these people, it caused them to make terrible decisions.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Stay in the hall. Go into a previously locked room. Run to the roof. Run to the ground floor. Their fate was sealed. Otherwise, the very official FBI agent wouldn’t be presenting us with the tapes in the first place.
As you can tell, this is by no means a great movie. It’s not even a very good one. But it can be enjoyable if you go into it with the right frame of mind. Know that the characters are terrible people, but also know that they will die soon. Know that the beginning is a bit slow, but also know that it will pick up. And, again, that they will die.