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Eric Hayes is a stringer. One notch below the lowest rung of the journalistic ladder. A video vulture preying on police chases, ambulance runs, and random street violence, selling his footage to the highest bidder and living on a steady diet of cigarettes and bloodlust. For years, Eric has lived off of other people's pain and misery. But he's about to discover something beneath the streets of Los Angeles even hungrier for blood than he is. He's about to discover THE GHOULS. Written by
From the very cool and quite freaky DVD cover and the intriguing ideas and themes, The Ghouls really did have potential to be good. Unfortunately it was just a very messy movie where the low budget very badly hurt it.
The best thing about The Ghoul is the performance of Timothy Muskatell in the lead role. It is not a perfect or great performance by all means, the character is somewhat of a despicable one and Muskatell does fail to bring any empathy or humanity to him and there are a couple of times where he does play hard-nosed a bit too low-key. The good news about the performance though is that it is a commanding and brooding performance with a good deal of assurance and intensity, managing to bring some watchability to the movie. Joseph Pilato also brings some gravitas but isn't used enough to shine properly. The rest of the acting is very amateurish, being so low-key that there doesn't seem to be any acting going on, and the stock and unsubtly one dimensional characterisation and incredibly stilted dialogue disadvantage them further.
What stuck out as particularly bad with The Ghouls was the production values, or lack of, it was made on a very low-budget and it shows through painfully. The sets are basically parking lots and dimly lit sparse rooms, and the continuous shaky camera work not only is distracting in how dizzy it makes one feel, it makes it hard to work out what's going on. A lot of it feels like very random footage hurriedly edited together with little care or coherence. The very poorly recorded (very muddied) music is jarring in style and really distracts from the mood, even overwhelming the dialogue at times. The story had some interesting themes and ideas but unfortunately little is done with them, parts are mentioned and then skipped over or things are under-explained which makes it not an easy movie to follow sometimes, and it drags badly constantly with too long being spent on less-important or irrelevant scenes.
The Ghouls doesn't succeed as a fun or scary movie either, it's too tedious and too bleak to be fun (taking the seediness to extremes with gratuitous nudity and even cheaper-looking gore, and the harrowing images and horror elements are so in your face, at times too random in placement and done with the subtlety of a sledgehammer that it becomes too much after a while) and the dull pacing and low-budget severely hurt the atmosphere. The titular creatures similarly make no impression, they are not used anywhere near enough and are poorly made-up, looking more goofy than menacing, also exuding no personality let down a sense of threat.
All in all, despite the DVD cover/case and the ideas it had, The Ghouls is a ghoulishly bad movie with Muskatell's performance being the only thing that it has going for it. Some might like it, but this did nothing for me. 2/10 Bethany Cox
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