Friday, March 01, 2013

Netflix Movie Review: Ghost From The Machine - Netflix

Being a ham radio operator, as well as a paranormal buff, I understand the concept.  The concept being that, electromagnetic imprints of long-term residents of certain places may remain after death, and, if you could energize the ionic space in question, well, perhaps something might just appear--and even, if one were not careful, they'd be a little naughty.

However, that's not what bothers me. It's not the concept, the technology, or the low-budget nature of the film, ergo, actors, props, devices, locations, and such.  All of the aforementioned were used, as I see it, with alacrity; I also thought the cinematography was excellent and highly believable for such a film.  I enjoyed the low-key nature of the environmental shots--the store, the neighborhood, inside the store, the school...  Ah!  The School!

Let's cut right to the chase.  This film had characters that were simply bullies, pure and simple!  The educational system of whatever town this was in had absolutely no tolerance for any type of 'going against the norm' relative to school attendance.  It was draconian, unsympathetic, and threatening; and not much else.

The Child Protective Services Man, and the woman teacher were--as all good movie stereotypical tropes from days of yore do tell us--black.  Black, and with an attitude, ten fathoms deep to their very core, with the "movie-typical, socialistic, fascistic personality tendencies."
The fact is, save for very few exceptions--if any...I can't think of any place on the silver screen where it wasn't--this type of character is always portrayed by a black person, or persons, and they all have "that liberal extremist, education-at-all-costs-or-death" type of attitude.

I actually just jumped to the end, right before the basement encounter with the "nasty couple."  It was true-to-form.  The young Guardian-Of-His-Brother pleading and begging with the "big, bad, CPS Agent," followed by the CPS Agent giving a short, sweet, catch-all  statement "all you had to do was get him to school on time."  As if that mere fact is the only important issue going on.

The grief wasn't even mentioned!

Gads, if the family death issues weren't enough!  Didn't these people have family or friends who were sympathetic enough to suggest grief counseling?  This reviewer has been through a nasty experience, myself, with a family death that had a similar alienation effect--although for different reasons.  Still, this film's "government teaching establishment characters" brought out an ire in me that few films have ever done.

Now don't get me wrong.  I absolutely L-O-V-E-D the science part of it.  That's what I think should've been focused upon more, and then the relationship issues.  Think along the lines of the movie "Solaris" and you'll get my meaning.

Now, I wouldn't have taken apart the fridge just to satisfy a hobby need.  However, these circumstances were a bit more, well, weird.  Grief does weird things to people at times, and this on-screen-fantasy might just be what could happen, given the proper instances.

So, in summary:
  • The scientific paranormal premise was, to me, a sound plot device.  So were the people centered around the happenings the device was causing.  I felt there could've been a bit more interaction along these lines, as this is what the film was primarily about.

  • The scenes were well done, overall, and I really felt like I was in the "relatively bucolic" neighborhoods portrayed.

  • The biology teacher seemed like a Les Nessman of WKRP In Cincinatti fame type of character, but with a bit more self-aggrandized arrogance, and not the least bit funny.  (Okay, I'll give his description of his classroom One Star for Effort!)

  • The black woman cast as the principal (I wasn't sure on this one) was so stereotypically "movie trope," I was overjoyed that the one scene she was in didn't last long.  The close-up really got to me; I felt it was *that* horrible, utterly predictable, and trite.  (Which leads me to question:  Did the director have an issue with Minnesota's Child Protective Services, of which I've heard some horror stories?  "Socialist Fascistic" type of stuff?  Read:  "Nazi In A Mortarboard!")

  • The real banger for me was the character of the Child Protective Services Agent.  I don't think this actor had much to do, other than act mean, be threatening, and pander to verbiage equaling nothing more than ultimatums, as if "someone as young as the surviving eldest son" couldn't figure it out, eventually, with a bit of sympathetic counseling.  (Empathic wouldn't hurt, either!)  My interior loathing was really drawn out by this character, and it was not a pleasant experience.
So the movie ends with the older son's younger brother being ignominiously driven away by an unsympathetic authority figure--who didn't even have a part in understanding the other part of the film--which, to me, is what the tale was really about.

I found the 'custody/threat' sub-plot non-engaging and detrimental, drawing the viewer away from the technical/spiritual elements of the main plot device, and ending the movie with a non-plussing sort of feeling

Still, I enjoyed most of it.  I give it a Net Total of Three Stars.


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