28th Aug2023

Frigthfest 2023: ‘Spookt’ Review

by James Rodrigues

Stars: Christen Sharice, Haley Leary, Eric Roberts, Erin Brown, Keith Brooks, Victor Rivera, Crystal Cleveland, Jennifer Pearl, Davi Crimmins | Written by Torey Haas | Directed by Tony Reames

Director Tony Reames opens his feature debut, Spookt, with a simple scene, as a boy walks home alone while listening to music through his headphones. The walk is interrupted by a supernatural occurrence, startling the boy as he passes a spooky house. Known as the Gibson house, it is part of local folklore whose bloodied history still frightens locals.

Voice-over gets out the necessary information with accompanying footage, highlighting how ten-year-old Flora Blu Giddens disappeared 6 years earlier after walking into the Gibson house on a dare. It was previously owned by once-respected surgeon and Greenville Butcher, Dr. Bram Byler (Eric Roberts). Delivering this info dump is skeptical YouTuber, Rachel (Christen Sharice), who spends her time debunking supernatural events and has her sights set on the Gibson house next.

Upon arriving, she contends with paranormal investigator Claire (Haley Leary), as the pair’s combative personalities and differing beliefs collide while they try to discover the truth behind young Flora’s disappearance. Great drama can be made from the clashing ideologies between a believer and a sceptic, as evidenced by the TV show Lost. Reames’ approach unfortunately feels tiresome, as Rachel’s need to disprove Claire borders on smugness as part of a perfunctory way to bide time until the expected ending.

What’s more compelling is when the pair soften to each other, as they journey deeper into the mystery before uniting in disbelief at what they are experiencing. As both have creepy encounters with immobilising effects, unexplained occurrences test beliefs as past sins return to terrorise the living. While the central pair have horrifying experiences, the same cannot be said about viewers as the material fails to raise a pulse. All the third act delivers is a widower whose appearance feels forced, and Eric Roberts phoning it in.

*½  1.5/5

Spookt screened as part of this year’s Pigeon Shrine Frightfest London.


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