Ghosts terrify me. Both the idea of them and the real thing. I firmly believe ("know," really) that I've encountered what I'd have to call ghosts twice in my life. The second encounter was physical (I'm quite certain that it touched me) and was sufficient to send me running into the night like a scared little toddler. This is different, btw, from me saying that I have some solid theory as to exactly "WHAT" a ghost is in a spiritual sense or otherwise; there's simply no other term to describe the phenomena I encountered on these occasions - and no other term to describe my reaction other than abject mortal terror. I am scared of ghosts like I'm scared of no other 'unreal' thing.
As such, bad ghost movies are my LEAST favorite type of bad movie, because they force me into a critical paradox: When it comes to horror movies, the question of whether or not it's "scary" is generally supposed to be an all-powerful measure which can render all other issues moot - if it "works" at scaring you, then clearly the bad acting, directing, etc. didn't "matter," right? Problem is, I'm going to be "scared" by ANY ghost movie, even a bad one, which puts me in the unpleasant position of explaining how a horror film that terrified me was still crappy regardless. So, basically, if you want a four-word review of this film: Scared me, still sucked.
We're in familiar "Amityville" territory, story-wise: A troubled family moves into an old dark house that does EVERYTHING it can to advertise itself as haunted even BEFORE they find out it's an abandoned funeral home (complete with untouched, fully-stocked morgue!) and things start going bump (preceded, of course, by an on-cue drop in the ambient noise) in the night. They need the house because it's close to the hospital where the eldest son is undergoing experimental Cancer treatments, a plot-device which does double-duty at keeping them from moving out AND explaining why people don't believe the kid's visions. Said kid, by the way, is REALLY asking for it: Following a nightmare in which he encounters a specter in the basement, he immediately decides thats where he'll keep his bed. Not the smartest move he'll make.
The "what's going on" is predictable as hell, a half-hearted grab-bag of every haunted house cliche in the book including but not limited to grave-robbing, necromancy, wronged kids, seances, ectoplasm and excuses for the employment of the old spooky-old-timey-photograph routine. For what it's worth, I can safely say the film also employs just about the stupidest excuse for getting the lights all turned out in recent memory. Virginia Madsen plays the mom, while Elias Koteas does what he can in a simply AWFUL role as a fellow cancer patient who AMAZINGLY turns out to be a ghost-busting priest. What're the odds?