Classics

[Movie Review] Ghostkeeper (1982) ★★★☆☆

The Wendigo in The

Ghostkeeper offers atmospheric dread and chilling mythology. 


Ghostkeeper is a supernatural horror film that heavily relies on atmospheric horror and on a visceral feel. With a new spin on the mythology of the Wendigo that symbolizes the horrific events, it’s not about the monster and thus not a creature feature. It’s more about isolation both mentally and now physically due to the snow in the mountains. It’s a strange movie that doesn’t explain itself, but offers an atmospheric film with a gothic feel and full of dread and some terror. 


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Plot

Jenny and her boyfriend Marty and their friend Chrissy are driving around on snowmobiles in the Canadian mountains. They are on a holiday to celebrate New Year with a group of people together in a cabin. But when a snowstorm is coming in, they take shelter in a hotel The Deer Lodge that didn’t have had guests for five years. Jenny thinks the place is bad and wants to leave but they can’t. That evening they find out that the hotel isn’t abandoned and an old woman with her son, who doesn’t show himself, both live there. But something else is living in the basement and it is hungry. 


Why you should watch it

Ghostkeeper has a simple plotline and focuses on atmosphere and the relationship between Jenny and Marty and Chrissy. It soon becomes apparent that Jenny’s deceased mother was crazy and that she’s afraid she is going crazy too. Marty is an abusive man who  pays the bills and gladly reminds Jenny that he is in control and she has to take his dominant behavior. The sexy and a bit promiscuous Chrissy takes advantage of Marty’s wandering eye. This premiss plays a more important element of the plot than at first glance. It all seems to play out illogically and random, but when you consider their actions closely, then it does make more sense.

Although it focuses more on atmosphere and a sense of dread and danger than to fully explain the events, it has a very pleasant structure. The monster of the story is a Wendigo, although he’s more a plot device than the real active monster. The humans are the monsters in this story. How Marty treats Jenny. How Chrissy is a bad friend. The old woman is strange and a villain as is her son. Their parts in the story take a supernatural turn that isn’t fully explained, only hinted at what might be happening. It doesn’t contain any gore and hardly any blood. There are only few kills that don’t focus on the gore, just the horrific outcome of one of the kills. The other body isn’t even shown on screen. So it’s a very mild horror that hints at the supernatural. 

It’s about being stuck in a bad relationship about a trauma from the past, about being isolated and alone and the isolated setting of a big old hotel with a secret in the cellar while they are snowed in, does remind of The Shining (1980). It’s about the cold and hunger and isolation that makes people even worse than they are and eventually results in Marty going crazy, which was ironically Jenny’s personal fear and about Jenny changing her fate but not necessarily for the better. 

If you take a superficial look at the story it makes no sense at all, although it’s very atmospheric. The things that happen are illogical and strange and how they connect to certain things are making it all even stranger. But when you look at it only from the perspective of the characters it might be more realistic than you think. They don’t know what we already know and therefore their reactions are quite unlike usual horror films. 

It takes place at New Years Eve but we only know that because Marty mentions it. There’s no feel of the holidays, no Christmas decorations anywhere and no countdown moment. But it does ring in a new year for Jenny. A year when everything will change.


My favorite part

The scene when Jenny goes out onto the hallway at night and sees the old woman talking to someone we don’t get to see is a great atmospheric shot and establishes Jenny as the main character and final girl. 

Ratings:

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★☆☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

Ghostkeeper is directed and written by Jim Makichuk and cowritten by Doug MacLeod. It stars Riva Spier (Jenny), Murray Ord (Marty), Sheri McFadden (Chrissy), Georgie Collins (Ghostkeeper), Les Kimber (Storekeeper), Bill Grove (Danny) and John MacMillam (Windigo).

Duration: 89 minutes. Music: Paul Zaza. Cinematography: John Holbrook. Edited by: Stan Cole. Produced by: Harold J. Cole, Jim Makichuk. Production company: Badland Pictures. Distributed by: American Cinema Marketing.


Check the trailer below


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