Directed by Chris Hartwill
Starring Sean Faris, Luke Ford, Rachael Taylor
You die in the game, you die for real. Wait, wrong movie. Oh wait, no its not.
The premise of the movie is an America hot shot programmer and his partner decide to take a military virtual reality simulation they’re lending to the British army out for the weekend for beers, pot and their own version of Call for Duty. They choose to play in an old prison, where of course horrible deaths occurred at. Obviously, while playing their little game, a ghost of an abused prisoner gets trapped…in the machine (cue movie title).
Throwing a paranormal mishap into a virtual reality game isn’t particularly new. Adding the military aspect is a bit fresher, but it limits the functionality of the game world. Enemies spawning and re-spawning is a nice touch. Still, if I were going into a game with a real ghost in it and had programmed the darn thing, I would have modded myself with infinite health and a proton pack. That doesn’t mesh well with the realistic military simulation they were going for, but as the movie shows, an army game may not have been the best idea. Next time, try Mario or Sonic.
The acting is decent. Everyone does well playing the parts given to them, even if some are stereotypical. I have the sneaking suspicion Sean Faris’ character is named Tom because of his uncanny resemblance to Tom Cruise, and I also get the feeling he was told to go for that later on in the movie.
A majority of the filming (all the prison scenes) was done on location at an actual prison – the Crumlin Road Gaol in Northern Ireland. It’s a neat concept, and what few outside shots there are look nice. The problem is most of the shots are inside confined spaces at night. Given the magic set designers can whip up, the novelty of the authentic setting falls on blind eyes.
The video is decent enough without being special. It’s presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Some cheap CGI usage for the ghost’s chain though.
The audio is in 5.1 surround sound. Aside from the few army battle simulations, it doesn’t really take advantage of it. It doesn’t sound awful, but just not anything impressive. If your sound system sucks, there are always the English subtitles.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVD comes in a standard keep case with a cardboard slip cover that simply mirrors the DVD cover with some shiny holofoil. The case isn’t solid, with a cut-out recycle symbol on one side and cut-out holes on the other where the disc goes, which weakens the case where it should have the most protection. The disc does stay pretty snug in the case.
The disc itself is bland looking with just the title and company info printed onto it. No artwork or color printed onto the disc.
The extras are few, just a making of, an interview with the writer and the film’s trailer. No commentary, bloopers, deleted scenes or even alternate languages. Closest thing there is subtitles.
Interviewing the writer Sven Hughes tells how Hughes came up with the concept of how his virtual reality works in the movie and why he thought it would be interesting. There’s some interesting info about how real military uses simulations to help soldiers overcome post-traumatic stress disorder. Then it snowballs into delusions of grandeur with Hughes talking about Hollywood stars working on this film (maybe he thought Faris actually was Tom Cruise) and him breaking new ground in depicting special forces (as video game characters?).
The making of documentary is a half hour long. It covers the standard talking about characters, the crew and the director. Some of Hughes’ interview is repeated here too. There are a lot of fuzzy and muffled film clips, probably to differentiate from the documentary. Why some of the actual interviews are fuzzy and muffled, I don’t know.
The most interesting part of the making of is probably the experiences of filming in the supposedly haunted prison. This shows where the DVD missed a great opportunity. Perhaps if it had a bit more money, they could have filmed a short documentary on the actual prison. Nothing fancy. Alas, no such luck.
I was impressed though with the people who put the DVD together. Before the credits leading to the DVD menu, a screen pops up telling the viewer to just press “Menu” to skip the trailers. A lot of DVDs do this, but it’s the thought of actually letting the viewers know they can that’s nice.
It’s an average movie. Nothing about it is really worth owning. Rent if you must watch, or better yet, wait for whenever it will undoubtedly air on Syfy.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Series 5/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 4/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10