Ghost-hunting shows are ripe for parody, what with their gel-haired hosts, melodramatic showmanship, and overly serious tone the second anyone sees a spike in an EMF reading (electromagnetic field, for you normals). Oliver Irving’s Ghost Team presents a perfect, simple concept to lampoon — a group of wannabe ghost hunters invade a remote country cabin expecting some spirits — but the jokes are thinner than the apparitions.
Louis (Jon Heder) runs a print shop, where every day there’s a new missing-dog poster to be copied. He’s living the same day copied over and over (his job’s a metaphor for his life!), so when an old guy comes in rambling about his No Trespassing signs and the “probably haunted” barn he wants them for, Louis latches on to the haunting part and organizes his motley crew of acquaintances to finally do as their TV ghost-hunting heroes do: find proof of the otherworldly.
Louis’s best friend, Stan (David Krumholtz) — who believes his fiancée was abducted by aliens but who was most likely just left at the altar — is deadpan annoying and offers a hot spot of hilarity in this otherwise d.o.a. film, as when he tries to rile up the ghosts by asking them if they’re, “like, mad that you’re dead.” Amy Sedaris as a TV psychic is dial-tone bland and neglected, as are the rest of the team.
There’s an opportunity for Heder to show genuine personality as his character loses control of the situation, but maybe he’s afraid of doing some deeper character acting after Napoleon Dynamite. He’s too mumbly and undefined, a specter of what he could have been.
Directed by Oliver Irving
Opens August 12, Village East Cinema
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 10, 2016