Spirit (2001)


USA. 2001.


Director – Michael Slovis, Screenplay – V.R. McDade, Shawn Nelson & Garry Williams, Producer – Albert J. Salzer, Photography – Wade Hanks, Music – Richard Bellus, Optical Effects – Andrew Midgley, Special Effects Supervisor – Neil Stockstill, Production Design – C. Robert Holloway. Production Company – World International Network, LLC/Green-Epstein-Bacino/Crescent City Pictures


Elisabeth Moss (Kelly O’Connor), Greg Evigan (Jesse O’Connor), Austin O’Brien (Cole Barton), Ralph Waite (Jacob Hardesty), Taylor Simpson (Melissa Grayson), Lara Grice (Virginia Hardesty), Valerie Wildman (Marjorie O’Connor)


After the death of her mother in a car crash, teenager Kelly O’Connor joins her father as he leaves California and buys a big old house in New Orleans. However, after they move in, Kelly is certain that her mother’s ghost is visiting her in the new house. She falls in with Cole Barton, the troublemaking boy who lives next door. As the two try to find the identity of the ghost, Kelly’s father instead sees her behaviour as increasingly troubled and tries to keep her away from Cole.

Spirit is a ghost story made by World International Network, LLC, the producers of a good many video and cable psycho-thrillers. Most of World International Network’s thrillers are modestly effective but Spirit is prosaic and banal.

Spirit takes a long time – a good half-hour – to even get started. It passes through a series of vague scares, much uncertainty over whether there is a ghost or not, as well as sidetracking off to wonder what the boy next door is up to. It has the look and feel of a 1970s tv movie ghost story – the sort where nothing was too scary because the filmmakers did not want to unnerve audiences. Everything is eventually revealed as yet another plot about the past replaying itself, before the film ends on a banal feelgood wrap-up – the final shot of the comet is corny.

One reasonable aspect of the film is the element about teenage rebellion against parental authority, where the greatest problem that teenager Elisabeth Moss has to face is getting her father to take the stories of what is happening seriously and to not see it as her just her acting out. Elisabeth Moss – cast back when she was a teenager and some years before finding fame in tv’s Mad Men (2007-15) – gives a reasonable performance and makes for a convincingly plain and disaffected teen.

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