Monday, December 29, 2014

Murder, She Snoozed

I’m an easy mark for a lot of horror movies. Anything set during Halloween? Done. Something with cowboys fighting the supernatural? Obviously. Something involving an apocalypse? Duh. On the resume of Clancy Brown? JUST TRY AND STOP ME.

Also inevitable: anything on Netflix Instant that’s expiring. Hence today’s feature, the nondescript, no-longer-streaming The Skeptic.

Quick Plot: Bryan Becket (Tim Daly) is a jerk whose wealthy aunt mysteriously dies in her Victorian estate. Because he hates his now 40 year old wife, likes money, and seems to really enjoy bothering others, Bryan decides to move in to sell off some of his aunt’s heirlooms.

A minor setback rears its head when Bryan grumpily discovers his aunt has bequeathed the home to a psychic research institute. Couple that with insomnia, ghostly voices around the house, and the fact that Tom Arnold is his partner and one can understand why Bryan is such a grouch.

There are also quite a few unanswered questions surrounding his mother’s death, something psychic-in-training Zoe Saldana shows up uninvited to help investigate. Aided by some repressed memories courtesy of shrink Edward Herrmann and clues that include a creepy doll, Bryan slowly comes to terms with his past.

The Skeptic was ultimately released by IFC Films, although it feels like it would have found a much more appropriate audience via Lifetime or CBS. Daly gives a hard-working performance and writer/director Tennyson Bardwell is certainly trying to find a new angle for haunted houses, but the final product just feels rather dull. There's nothing specifically wrong with it: the acting overall is fine, the cinematography looks great, and the dialogue doesn't feel overly forced. There's just nothing specifically interesting when you're actually watching the movie. In six months, I'll have an awfully hard time telling you a single thing about this film. Except maybe that I watched it.


High Points
Surprisingly, there are a few jump scares that are executed far better than one would expect from a pretty mediocre little ghost movie

Low Points
Did I mention this was a pretty mediocre little ghost movie?

Lessons Learned
Turning 40 will make a woman require emotion

Lawyers get off on logic

When someone just dies is not the time to badmouth them

Guys only cry when they go to Cooperstown

Do not mourn the expiration of The Skeptic on Netflix Instant. It is a death that, much like Bryan’s elderly aunt, doesn’t hurt anyone. This is as mediocre a ghost film as they come, although perhaps there’s something about the many television-friendly faces and quiet nature that might appeal to your own elderly aunt. So I suppose skip The Skeptic unless you’re an elderly aunt. Every film is made for someone, right?


  1. Thanks for screening that one. I was fooled by the previews and thought it might not suck but I'll not waste my time. The people who make IFC trailers are pretty good at what they do so I'm never sure whether to trust them or not.

    1. It's certainly not the worst ghost story, but it might very well be the most boring!