I wish I could say that I loved indie horror period piece film, Ghosts of the Ozarks, but it ends up being just okay rather than blossoming into something special. This is really more of a cult movie than a ghost one, but I digress. Opening with a quote about how a forest can grow from one seed, the narration in the film is laughable (though thankfully, it is used sparingly). At its best, the feel of classics like Sleepy Hollow is present. Who is ready to take a trip to North Fork?
Set in post-Civil War Arkansas, Ghosts of the Ozarks wastes no time getting us into the meat of the story. Doc James (Thomas Hobson) is bounding toward the town of North Fork, a sanctuary in desperate need of a doctor. Just outside the town limits, James takes reprieve by a warm fire before being joined by a stranger. After the man gets ripped away off into the deep fog, James frantically runs for cover, pursued by an unseen foe. He ends up right at the gates of North Fork, where they let him in and seem unfazed by his wild encounter. Here, the ghosts outside are just a natural part of their daily life.
North Fork feels practically Twin Peaks-esque. The town has a weird assortment of characters that range from slightly important to significantly important to the narrative—among my favorites are James’ uncle, Matthew (Phil Morris) and Douglas (David Arquette), who is desperate to capture a photo of the ghosts. They don’t get many visitors in North Fork, so the entire place is abuzz at James’ arrival. James rents out a room from the local blind barkeep. At night, he is haunted by visions of what happened outside. The town treats so-called “ghosts” as if they are religion, and this is where the cult aspects come in strong. James races to uncover the town’s secrets before it’s too late…
In my personal opinion, the ending and beginning of Ghosts of the Ozarks are fun, even though this is one cheesy film overall. The middle portion is laboriously slow. More moments like a pirate-style music interlude with the blind man and his wife sharing a duet would have been welcomed with open arms. Light on the ghosts and heavy on the yawn, Ghosts of the Ozarks is a disappointing early-year horror diversion that nonetheless remains a semi-entertaining time waster.
Ghosts of the Ozarks reveals its hidden town secrets when it debuts in select theaters and Video on Demand on Thursday, February 3rd.