The faux-documentary format was first appropriated for a fictional narrative by Ken Jacobs in his 1963 underground classic Blonde Cobra. That film is a semi-autobiography of a necrophiliac, among other plotlines. From there, “found footage” would then be used countless times throughout the years, (arguably) most famously in 1999’s The Blair Witch Project. Writer/director Dan T. Hall’s The Last Ghost Hunters uses this format to chronicle what will serve as the last of a crew’s hunting for signs of ghost, hauntings, and assorted extrasensory manifestations.
Set in my home state of Indiana (Hoosier Pride!), the trio of paranormal investigators — Faith (Moli Hall), Mitch (Ransom Pugh), and Kelley (Kelley McKinney) — seek to explore the backstory and events surrounding a haunted house, situated in the town of Peru. The city is famous as the capital of circuses and boasts the Circus Hall of Fame. However, anywhere which gives birth to a circus hosts clowns. As we viewers know, there’s nothing more creepy than a clown. Ergo, Peru, Indiana would be the perfect location for a house haunted by killer ghosts to exist.
“…explore the events surrounding the murder and to determine if the abode is actually haunted.”
Apparently, a decade earlier, a gruesome set of murders occurred, and now the house of local legend is dilapidated, with foilage overrunning every outside nook and cranny. The current owner has brought in Faith, Mitch, and Kelley to explore the events surrounding the murder and to determine if the abode is actually haunted. The growing sense of dread developed by the interviews the film crew obtain is highly effective at suggesting that they’re in for a terrible night once they actually survey the home.
As The Last Ghost Hunters is a low-budget horror production, it must rely on the hallmarks of faux-documentary horror, which have been developed by its predecessors (such as the outstanding 2010 Trollhunter). It must establish a sense of foreboding via local interviews, have a hand-held camera that shakes to build tension, and utilize practical special effects. The anxiety and terror catharsis experienced can be highly rewarding when these elements are well used. The filmmaker uses these elements to pretty great effect. While I am not a fan of an overabundance of shaky-cam, I would suggest this could have used just a touch more of that. The sense of dread is built up in a wonderful slow burn. It could have just used a little more shaky-cam terror at the moment of truth, as it were.
The Last Ghost Hunters wishes to serve as a coda for a paranormal tradition: ghost hunting. As the films and television shows which featured the hunters of ghosts have mostly fallen to the wayside, it seems to be a fitting aspiration. This is the sort of film worth streaming if you want a pretty good ghost story to watch.
“…the sense of dread is built up in a wonderful slow burn.”