'Ghost Team': Film Review

Courtesy of The Orchard
A laughless outing in a rough summer for ghostbusters.

Jon Heder leads a team of would-be paranormal investigators.

A band of losers sets out to find ghosts and, more importantly, get on reality TV in Ghost Team, Oliver Irving's listless sophomore feature. A cast full of familiar names (few of them performing up to their standards) would have some trouble attracting attention here even in a summer that wasn't such a bruiser for comedies about ghost hunters; it'll shuffle off to video afterlife in no time.

Jon Heder plays Louis, a copy-store clerk whose fascination with a show called Ghost Getters is hard to explain, given his seeming lack of experience in the field. It's not as if he has been seeing specters since his youth and needs to prove they're real. When the show puts out a call for viewers who've got evidence of hauntings, he decides to go hunting at an old farm near town.

The series of scenes that follows, in which Louis assembles a team of acquaintances and strangers, should be a cakewalk. But Irving and screenwriter Peter Warren find it surprisingly hard to milk the charms of performers like Amy Sedaris and Justin Long for laughs; one scene after another falls flat, and soon six characters are lugging a van full of stolen surveillance gear out onto a stranger's property in the middle of the night.

Things get worse from here, with the picture evidently unsure if it's trying to scare us with some odd (and, once explained, wholly implausible) appearances and disappearances. The closest we get to comedy is some sad mockery of Long's character, a mall cop whose thick-headedness and insecurity make him an easy target for bullies.

There's enough bumbling here that viewers will soon guess the mystery is more Scooby Doo than Blair Witch in nature, though the latter is referenced multiple times. The average episode of that cartoon had more going for it than this outing.

Distributor: The Orchard
Production company: Tandem Pictures
Cast: Jon Heder, David Krumoltz, Justin Long, Melonie Diaz, Amy Sedaris, Paul W. Downs
Director-editor: Oliver Irving
Screenwriter: Peter Warren
Producers: Julie Christeas, Oliver Irving, Clem McIntosh, Alex Sagalchik, Schuyler Weiss
Executive producers: Aleksey Ageev, Marc Bortz, Kevin Iwashina, Jeremy L. Kotin, Jaime Marsanico
Director of photography: Timothy Naylor
Production designer: Ioannis Sochorakis
Costume designer: Hannah Kittell
Composer: Joe Hastings
Casting director: Stephanie Holbrook

Rated PG-13, 84 minutes