For the entire month of April, Cinefessions will once again be locked inside The Asylum, reviewing tons of releases by the famed studio. Every weekday throughout April you will get another Asylum review.
A few years back, when I first started watching films from The Asylum, I rented 8213: Gacy House from Blockbuster. It was a found footage film about one of the most notorious serial killers of all-time, so I hoped for something frightening and entertaining. Instead, Gacy House was a big pile of disappointment. It epitomizes so much of what is wrong with the found footage genre, which is a shame because the mockbuster, Paranormal Entity (which I watched afterwards), is a solid film, and even better than Paranormal Activity. 100 Ghost Street: The Return of Richard Speck is very reminiscent of 8213: Gacy House, which is why I have waited so long to watch it. Fortunately, The Asylum learned a lot in the two-year gap between these two films, and Ghost Street is much better movie.
100 Ghost Street is a typical found footage film in that it starts off with the “this is the footage of a film crew whose bodies were never found” idea. It even entirely eliminates any credit sequences. This time around, a documentary crew is visiting the old hospital where mass murderer Richard Speck tortured, raped, and murdered eight student nurses back in 1966. The crew sets up cameras all around the premises in order to try and capture paranormal activity while they spend their one night in the hospital. Along with these mounted cameras, there are a number of handheld cams that the crew carries with them. This all sets up some expected, but still decent, moments caught on tape.
What sets 100 Ghost Street apart from many found footage films – especially found footage films from The Asylum – is that it has a mostly likeable cast of characters. The film crew is fun to spend time with, and seem like real people. There are a couple of clichés, as the film has the asshole director and the selfish movie star, and neither are enjoyable to watch, but that’s in the writing, not the acting, which is great. This is some of the better acting I’ve seen from The Asylum this month, and that is essential in any found footage film.
There are a lot of tense moments, but many of these are wasted as nothing happens. I don’t need a lot of jump scares, but given the genre, I expected at least a couple during the always-scary (for me, at least) point of view shots. Unlike in Gacy House, we don’t really see much of the ghost of Richard Speck, and that is a good thing. What we do get is pretty silly, but still not as bad as I’ve seen in the past. The ghost is mostly an invisible entity that hunts the crew, and this is more menacing than any CG effect The Asylum could’ve created. They had the chance to drop the ball when the ghost was raping one of the women (which is one of the only bits of nudity in the film, for those wondering), but instead, they chose to go with the invisible monster, making the scene more effective. Frankly, there were a few moments that could’ve been cheesy, but 100 Ghost Street manages to make most of them pretty unsettling.
100 Ghost Street is a decent found footage film. They justify the continued filming by needing the light on the camera, and I love that. The biggest disappointment has to be the lack of scares, which they seem to set up, but rarely execute. The CGI ghost of Richard Speck is necessary, I guess, but still only mediocre when on-screen. As someone who genuinely enjoys found footage films, I liked 100 Ghost Street well enough. Admittedly, though, I represent a minority, even amongst genre fans, which leads me to believe that most people won’t enjoy Ghost Street as much as I did. Fans of The Asylum, or of found footage films, will find a lot to appreciate here, but everyone else should probably just skip this one.