But THIS family has a hereditary gift for seeing the dead, a gift of which patriarch Lisa (Spencer) is in deep denial. When her young daughter Heidi (Lind) starts having her own crystal clear visions of spirits, and indeed starts talking to them, it’s only her aunt and fellow seer Joyce (Sackhoff) that offers any insight. As Heidi explores her new ability more and more, she awakens the slumbering evil of a slave-murdering taxidermist still thirsty for blood. Poor, well-meaning father Andy (Murray) is just along for the ride.
There is a horror cliché checklist that Ghosts of Georgia sticks to in terms of the ‘scares’ it delivers and the infuriating characters it offers up. Spirits who demand attention but will only peep one eye around the door and not say anything? Check. Dark figures moving across the camera with a loud drone? Check. Parents you hate for staying in the house that is clearly going to be trouble for them and their child? Check. It's all here.
As for the casting, it's atrociously wrong. Not because the actors aren’t good at their job or unable to work with what little they’re given, but because they don't look like a family. In fact, the only way they could look less like a family would be if the mother was Chinese, the aunt was Aboriginal and the daughter was a man. Lisa has dark colouring, Heidi has blonde and aunt Joyce a fiery redhead. There's no resemeblance at all (made all the more bizarre when you see the almost unified colouring of the real family at the end of the film).
Despite everything above, there is actually quite an interesting story being told. It’s one that involves the Underground Railroad (the transporting of freed slaves to the northern states) and the spirit of the elderly man that owned the house before its current occupiers. There are also some quite clever ideas in how the mystery is unravelled during the course of the film. This in itself raises it above horror films that rely solely on gratuity and gore, but ultimately it’s the characters that fail the story.
How much of that story is actually taken from the true account of the Wyrick family is unclear, but these days that rarely matters. What does matter hear is that the slick production values are served well enough with a story that should entertain, even if the characters don’t. In addition to being relatively scare-free, it’s one of the ‘nicest’ horror films there’s been for a while. In fact, if they’d toned it down ever so slightly, it could easily have been a great 80’s kids film.
Some of those used to be scary, right?
EXTRAS ★★ There are some deleted scenes (with optional filmmaker commentary), outtakes, and a 10-minute featurette on the Wyrick family.