Plot: What’s it about?
Lizzie Fisher (Heather Ann Foster) has just died, but after three minutes of death, she returns to the world of the living. She and a friend, both too young to drive, stole a car and went on a little road trip, only to run into serious problems. As neither knew how to drive the car, a crash soon spun them out of control. Her friends was killed in the accident and Lizzie was left with serious injuries, not to mention her brush with the other side. After she is cleared in court, she goes back home and it would seem things should return to normal. But Lizzie’s venture into death remains on her mind, then it begins to manifest itself in physical ways. At first, she hears strange noises, knocks and creaks, then unusual, foul odors can be detected. A rational explanation seems plausible, but when furniture starts to move itself and the noises become more prominent, Lizzie and her family are forced to face these events. Her mother thinks Lizzie is behind the events at first, but as time passes and more of the happenings arise, even she has to deal with the situation. A tabloid reporter is soon called in, who documents the strange events and turns over his findings to a paranormal team. Then Lizzie is put through a battery of tests, from seances to brainwave exams. What is behind these unusual events and is Lizzie somehow involved?
No, this is not a movie that has rap stars battling psycho madmen, despite what the title might suggest. Instead, Urban Ghost Story is a grounded, but undeniably eerie motion picture that returns the genre back to its roots. So in other words, the chills are as potent as you could want, but the approach isn’t common these days. The focus here is on visuals, atmosphere, and performances, not the usual elements relied on in most modern horror movies. The result is a little slow in pace, but yields some great atmospheric moments. If you’re a fan of ghost driven cinema, then Urban Ghost Story is sure to please. But don’t expect handfuls of special effects, gallons of blood, or much in terms of gore, as that isn’t what fuels this picture. You won’t miss the blood and gore however, as the scares are more than effective. I do think the writing could have been better, at least in terms of depth in some respects. A little more time spent on building some elements could have made for a deeper, more effective experience. Even so, the basics are in place and thanks to some great direction, it all works out. The performances are strong across the board also, which helps keep the tone and mood intact. MTI has offered up a more than solid disc too, so Urban Ghost Story is more than recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Urban Ghost Story is presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen. This looks better than I expected and even better than the import version, which is terrific news. The print is in good condition, but keep in mind, this was a lower budget production. So the darker scenes have some grain and the visuals aren’t that refined, but those issues never dampen the experience. The image has some softness, but detail remains solid throughout. I found colors to be muted in most scenes, per the visual design, though some scenes did hold some bright hues. This is a dark film in terms of visuals however, so don’t expect vivid colors here. No real concerns with contrast either, although the black levels aren’t quite as stark as I would like. But in the end, this is a fine visual effort and fans should be pleased.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wasn’t bowled over by the Dolby Digital 5.1 option included here, but it covers all the bases and even offers some memorable moments. The effects sound clean and make good use of the speakers, while the sound effects also have good presence. The first hour of the movie has a lot of subtle, eerie surround use, while the final half hour has more power, which makes for a good balance of audio presence. I have no flaws to report with the dialogue either, as vocals come across in crisp and clear form throughout. This disc also includes optional Spanish subtitles, just in case you might need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A pair of audio commentary tracks kicks off the supplements, the first with director Genevieve Jolliffe and director of photography Jon Walker, the second with cowriter Chris Jones and producer Eddie Hamilton. I found both sessions to be informative and worthwhile, so make sure to give each one a good listen. A total of three featurettes, one on real life urban ghosts and two on the production, can be found, but none are over fifteen minutes in length. In other words, don’t expect much depth. This disc also includes an isolated musical score option, as well as a selection of deleted scenes.