Title: The Skeptic
Starring: Tim Daly, Zoe Saldana, Tom Arnold
Director: Tennyson Bardwell
Duration: 89 mins
Hot-shot lawyer Bryan's aunt just passed away, which means only one thing to him: He gets her house. Bryan is notorious among family members and colleagues as being, you guessed it, skeptical about everything. He decides to temporarily separate from his wife and live in his new house until he sells it. Soon he finds out that the house was actually left to a local paranormal institute, instead of him. Bryan is none to happy to learn that his late and equally skeptical aunt believed that her house was haunted before she died. Bryan starts hearing eerie whispers at night and has visions of a mysterious woman. None of this can convince Bryan that the house is haunted until a psychic he met at an institute stays with him. Terror ensues and a dark secret begins to reveal itself.
I learned about something myself this week. Here's what I already knew: I've seen hundreds and hundreds of horror movies in my life. I love them. I collect them. Blood and guts don't bother me at all. Rape scenes are starting to bother me less. And hardly any film can really spook me. That is, unless it's a ghost movie. Seems that I still am truly frightened of ghost movies. Let me tell you, The Skeptic is one scary-ass movie. It was unpredictable (as far as what was going to happen immediately next) and the suspense and scares were perfectly executed and aplenty. That's the beauty about ghost movies, anything could happen at any time. To give you an idea of how big of a creep-fest this was, I had to pause it and put on a flannel shirt and a blanket because I was getting serious chills. Perhaps the sensation was enhanced because the TV was 3 feet from my face and I was wearing headphones, but even so this was a perfect ghost movie.
The acting was as good as you could ever ask for in a horror film, or any film for that matter. Tom Arnold's character is so different than what we're used to (McHale's Navy) and his performance is flawlessly delivered. The story was original, yet classic at the same time. There was effective imagery throughout the film such as Halloween costumes, a pale, blue-eyed doll, and a ball bouncing down the stares (bringing to mind The Changeling). But one thing this movie isn't is gratuitous. There is almost zero blood, zero special effects, zero sex/nudity, zero cheap scares, and very little profanity. This restraint helps the film out a lot and sort of classes it up.
It's October now. Halloween is on its way. If you watch any movie this month, make it this one. It will likely put you in a very Halloweeny mood and make you enjoy the macabre this season brings. Easily the best ghost film of the decade.