Ghost Image is a fairly run of the mill semi-supernatural thriller that has great aspirations but doesn't quite live up to them.
The story follows Jen (Elisabeth Rohm), a documentary filmmaker still recovering psychologically years later from a childhood car accident that killed her parents and younger sister. Things are going well for her and boyfriend / business partner Wade (Waylon Payne) until Wade too dies in a car accident. The police are suspicious that Wade may have been murdered, not least because the brake lines of the car he was driving were cut. Jen's status as number one suspect is only complicated by the fact that he was driving Jen's car on his errand, and not his own. Was Wade the target, or Jen?
Jen herself vacillates between believing that she might have killed Wade (because of her childhood trauma she has suffered for years from hallucinations and sleepwalking, and has visions of Wade accusing her of killing him) and that a shady businessman for whom they were making a documentary film might have killed him for some reason. Jen begins to deteriorate psychologically, having recurrent visions of her deceased little sister, covered in blood. Her mental state is not improved by the mysterious fellow who is stalking her, and several times breaks into her home and storage unit, apparently looking for something. She is not comforted by the idea that the stalker might be a figment of her imagination as well.
Matters progress from there, and the resolution is interesting, though not exactly groundbreaking or original. There are a number of effective jump scares, and a fairly steady feeling of disquiet, but as a whole the movie fails to reach the heights at which the producers were aiming. The performances range from competent to pretty good, with Rohm being the standout in the lead. The actors do stumble over the sometimes clunky dialogue, but other than that perform effortlessly. The whole film seems to be a few beats off. It's short, coming in at just over an hour and a half, but there are several long dialogue scenes with lots of dramatic pauses that are begging to be cut back. At a couple of points, characters explicate back story or plot or character motivation with straightforward dialogue, leaving little to the imagination. At the end, everything fits together a little too neatly.
There is also the issue of the abject silliness into which the film from time to time descends. These moments mostly consist of Jen having full, coherent conversations with her dead boyfriend via video playback. It is not concretely established whether these are just one more example of Jen's hallucinations, but it is strongly implied that Wade's ghost is in fact possessing some video editing software and communicating from the grave. By this device, the film is able to cheat significantly and pass along vital plot information that could not be obtained otherwise.
Overall, Ghost Image is an almost great psychological thriller with strong supernatural elements. It has an interesting premise, engaging characters, strong realistic interactions between Jen and her small circle of friends and solid performances. The silly computer aided ghost whispering, awkward dialogue and plot cheats drain away much of the underlying tension, and with it a lot of audience good will. This is a film that tries hard, but fails more than it succeeds. It's not entirely without merit, though, and probably worth a rental.
The video is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, and looks pretty good. It is bright and clear, with rich colors. However, as this review is based on a check disc, no comment can be made about the quality of the final product.
The 2 channel sound is adequate to the job. There is no hiss or interference, and the dialogue is consistently audible. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are available. This review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the sound quality of the final product.
The only extra included on the Ghost Image disc is an uninspired trailer. This review is based on a check disc, so no comment can be made on the quantity or quality of the extras on the final product.
Ghost Image has a lot of potential, but this potential is wasted through a series of missteps and poor decisions. The genuine frights and good performances cannot overcome the rough dialogue and silliness of some scenes. One gets the feeling that, with a few tweaks and reworking, the film could have been much superior to what we see here. While Ghost Image has a number of good qualities, in the final analysis it is much less than it could have been.