Louis (Jon Heder) has spent the majority of his adult life dreaming of becoming a paranormal investigator on his favorite television show, Ghost Getters. He finds his opportunity to make this goal a reality when the series announces a contest challenging people to send in their best paranormal footage for a chance to become a co-host on the series. Louis has no previous ghost hunting experience, but he does have a best friend named Stan (David Krumholtz) who, having recently been dumped by his fiancée, is willing to help in his efforts. He also has a nephew, Zak (Paul Downs), with access to the kind of equipment needed to pull off such an investigation. Together the three, along with Louis’ crush (Melonie Diaz), an overly emotional security guard (Justin Long), and a cable access psychic (Amy Sedaris), plan a weekend trip to a nearby farmhouse rumored to be the site of numerous paranormal sightings.
In an unusual moment of self-awareness, the film takes a hard left turn at the top of its third act in what one can only imagine is a hail Mary-like attempt at improving the story. It’s the kind of last ditch effort for laughs and originality that reeks of desperation, and it’s so painfully underdeveloped that you wonder if it exists solely because Irving couldn’t find the financing needed to take the film where the story initially looks to be headed.
Ghost Team begins as a quasi-parody of ghost hunting reality shows and quickly devolves into a series of juvenile gags (a gag where farts are mistaken for ghostly apparitions pretty much summarizes the humor found throughout the film), tedious dialogue, and well-shot, but ultimately soulless sequences of B, C, and D-list talent aimlessly exploring a decrepit property with flashlights and GoPros. The components of a decent comedy are all present, but none are ever capitalized on in any kind of meaningful way. Worse still, the film fails to establish any sense of tension or dramatic weight. You never care about the characters, their mission, or their interpersonal relationships. They could live or die, succeed or fail, and you would be left unmoved because the film puts next to no effort into establishing a connection between the audience and those on screen.
The one area where Ghost Team finds some semblance of success is in its cinematography, which looks as if it were stolen from another, far better put together film. Credit for this accomplishment goes to Timothy Naylor, who is still making a name for himself in the world of feature films. Naylor’s eye raises the quality of the film as high as any feature can go while still having a completely forgettable script and shockingly empty characters. It’s rare that the technical side of a movie outshines the storytelling components, especially in the horror-comedy realm, but Naylor’s creativity is miles ahead of Irving’s throughout.
I find it hard to believe there will be another film as bad or immediately forgettable as Ghost Team that surfaces in the final months of 2016. For a film that promotes itself as a horror-comedy, the latest creation from Oliver Irving fails miserably on both fronts without once attempting to be anything else. It’s a half-baked premise that might have worked for a short if it had better writing, but as is it manages to feel bloated without even reaching the 90-minute mark. The only thing waiting on the other side of this viewing experience is the painful knowledge that you have wasted some of your precious time on this Earth that can never be recovered and that Justin Long has fallen incredibly far from where he once stood in the echelon of Hollywood’s best and brightest stars. You couldn’t pay me to watch this movie again, and you shouldn’t be paying anyone anything—including your time—to experience it yourself.