I'm amazed in the lack of good horror movies that revolve around the internet. Sure, there was the great Japanese horror film "Pulse" (which was then given the inevitable Hollywood remake treatment) and the seriously underrated British movie "My Little Eye." However, you then get plenty of bad (the aforementioned "Pulse" remake and it's sequels, Romero's "Diary of the Dead"), to the outright atrocious ("Feardotcom", "Untraceable" and Argento's "The Card Player") in this brand. The internet itself can be a terrifying thing, yet many still can't seem to capture that. Well, you can add "Ghost Machine" to that list, though to be fair, it's more mediocre than it is bad.
The plot deals with two scientists working for the army, who borrow their computers to map out a supposedly haunted prison. Why, other than the fact that they are in a horror movie, would they want to do that? Well, so they can create an authentic virtual reality shooter. Since this place is haunted, the vengeful spirit of a cyber-terrorist possesses the system, and decides to go after the guys having fun.
One of the most noticeable things about "Ghost Machine" is that apart from the whole "War on Terror" aspect, the plot feels like it could have come from the early to mid 90's. You know, that era in which the internet was still this unknown and new thing to many people, and virtual reality was believed to be the next big thing. The era that gave us such dated relics like "Ghost in the Machine" and "The Net." That's what the movie feels like. Even the end credits song feels like a relic from the 90's.
So, is it a bad movie? Well to be honest, the acting (save from a pretty bad Sean Farris) is a lot better than one usually gets from these kinds of movies, the direction isn't too bad, and even the humor isn't as lame brained as it could have been. The problems lie in the poor CG effects and the routine nature of the whole movie. The CG effects present are terrible, especially the chain weapon the ghost wields, which leads to some routine and rather poor death and gore scenes. Then there's the whole nature of the movie, which is so by the numbers. I mean, there's nothing to get angry about in it, but that's because there's not really anything to get excited about either. It's just kinda bland. Finally, there's the ghost herself, who is pretty much a combination of Slasher movie archetypes and J-Horror cliches. Who really cares about her?
"Ghost Machine" isn't an awful movie, but it's not a particularly good one either. It's the definition of the kind of horror flick you watch on a weekend afternoon, and forget about a week later.