by Kelsey Zukowski, published on August 25, 2009|
Ghost Cat (2003)
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Ontkean, Shirley Knight, Lori Hallier, Shawn Roberts, Mark Rendall, Tom Barnett, Nigel Bennet
Written By: Larry Ketron
Directed By: Don McBrearty
[Editor's Note: This is a 2003 Animal Planet original movie that is getting a September 22, 2009 DVD release from North American Motion Pictures. It was originally titled Mrs. Ashboro's Cat, and I have no idea why they sent it to us, but Kelsey watched it, and liked it... So who am I to argue? Here is our review of Ghost Cat!]
First of all, Ghost Cat is not meant to be a scary movie at all. Well it is rated PG so what do you expect? The only horror element present is the images of the paranormal. However, the only ghost is a cat and its a friendly ghost at that. If there is any evil present throughout the film its of the selfish and greedy people who cause conflict and the need for this ghost cat to be there in the first place.
Natalie Merrit (Ellen Page) lost her mom a year ago and is looking for a new start in the small town her mother grew up in. Natalies father, Wes (Ontkean), is working on a book about the towns paranormal sightings although he is a nonbeliever himself. They look at a kind old lady, Mrs. Ashboros (Knight) house and fall in love with it. Mrs. Ashboros cat, Margaret, takes an uncommon liking to Natalie. Mrs. Ashboro tells them that she just isnt ready to sell. It turns out her conniving nephew, Boyd (Barnett). was pushing her to sell so he could get the money for the house. Mrs. Ashboro dies a few days later and her cat dies with her. Natalie and her father end up buying the house after they find an old book of Natalies mother who Mrs. Ashboro knew very well.
Once they move in to the house Natalie starts seeing weird things like the piano playing by itself. She keeps seeing Margarets ghost, though her father doesnt believe this. When her neighbor, Pearson (Rendall), and his dog see Margaret in the window Natalie is relieved that shes not crazy. That means that she must be back for a reason, theres something she needs to tell her. The more time she spends at her neighbor, Brendas (Hallier), animal shelter and sees how she is struggling to keep her property and pay off the mortgage she senses that it has something to do with her. Boyd is desperate to find the money that he felt should have gone to him when his aunt past and targets Brenda since he believes she must have given it to her. When she denies it, Boyd teams up with a corporate businessman who has been nearly harassing Brenda trying to get her to sell her property. Animals are let out and the shelter is even set on fire to scare her off. The answer to beating them once and for all rests in Margaret.
Good news for Ellen Page cynics; Page actually plays a different character aside from the full of attitude, overly sassy smart teenager she normally plays. The film was shot in 2003 so this was before she fell in to this character type, but it is still refreshing to see a bit of range in her. She did pretty well overall as the intuitive and likeable Natalie. I cant really say too much about the other performances. The rest of the cast did a decent job in their roles, just nothing particularly noteworthy.
You can tell Ghost Cat is a made for TV movie. It avoids being particularly cheesy although it does have its dramatic moments and slightly comical villains. Sure a cat being a ghost and suddenly disappearing in to mid air is a little cheesy, but most of the film is played more seriously especially considering its an animal planet channel movie. Most of the characters are likeable, aside from the conniving characters that arent meant to be. Its easy enough to care about whats going on. Most of the characters are developed pretty well. They are experiencing loss, are warm and caring individuals, and have a certain determination in them. Those working against our protagonists are less developed and somewhat stereotypical, but their evil smirks and hidden agendas actually make them a bit more fun. The story is simple, but there is a subtle appeal to it. There really is no violence in the film and not even any attempted scares so if thats what youre looking for look elsewhere. Overall, Ghost Cat is a fairly enjoyable family ghost film that concentrates on the drama involved between fairly realistic and likeable characters.