In 2010 Fantasia Film Festival screened Ghost from the Machine also known as Phasma Ex Machina (2010).
Now in 2018 director Anthony Scott Burns, modernizes the story, characters and feel of the original film into something completely new for the next generation of moviegoers to enjoy.
New VS Old
Reboots and remakes happen a lot. I see a lot of audiences complain about them and other champion them.
This movie was described as a remake of the 2010 film Ghost from the Machine (Phasma Ex Machina). I hadn’t seen it prior to watching Our House, so I found it on Google Play and watched it. I also wrote a review for it which you can access >> here <<
For me, Our House is more a reimaging than a remake. The original premise is there but the differences between the two films are not subtle. The family dynamic is different. The structure is different, storyline details are added and taken away between the two films. More importantly, the ghosts are two entirely different concepts as is the narrative of determining how the machine came to be.
So which one was better?
Is Our House a film that not only pays homage to the original but also spins into an original concept?
Did director Anthony Scott Burns elevate the original idea and theme into an adaptation worthy of its conceptual 80’s Amblin Entertainment Films influence? Read on to find out.
Whats Our House About?
Our House is a horror/drama about Ethan Lightman, a university student, and a genius working on an experimental machine that could change the world. When tragedy strikes he is forced to move home and raise his siblings.
Eventually, Ethan begins working on his machine again and once turned on, strange things begin to happen around the house. Are their parents really communicating from the other side?
What Did I Think of the Movie?
In a directors statement from Anthony Scott Burns, he talks about wanting the story for this film to feel like a natural progression of Amblin Films from the 80’s.
—Realistic youth driven tales wrapped in entertainment. It’s about real people with real problems without infallible hunks or barbie doll on screen.
—It’s a harsh parable about understanding and not fearing change.
—It’s vital that we not just emulate the films we grew up loving but make something wholly original with the same level of heart.
And with that in mind, Our House is very special. You really don’t need to watch the original film Phasma Ex Machina to appreciate this one. It stands on its own two feet and takes a really cool idea about the machine invented to created wireless electricity which ends up being something that breaks barriers between the dead and the living.
The dynamic of the family is absolutely relatable on a base level pinning its hopes on the ability to contact their recently deceased parents. It hooks you into a world where you champion different outcomes as it goes along. It begins looking like a mild ghost story with tiny little events that really don’t mean anything except to the players within the story. When the shift begins in the film, sympathy for their situation takes over. Who wouldn’t believe in ghosts if they could tell you they were there?
Specters and Horror Tropes
I loved the way the specters were developed and there are some genuinely creepy moments that somehow managed to make the hairs on my arms stand up. Stories about ghosts always do that to me. As the movie progressed in the second half, there are a few small gimmicky tropes that took some of the shine away. I’m not adverse to horror tropes though and it certainly didn’t affect the movie as a whole. The cast as an ensemble worked really well and I connected with the performances from each.
Added depth to the story came from some neighborhood secrets thrown in. These were similar but not the same as the original film and well placed. Optimizing the family unit and having two siblings instead of one also created an extra layer of unity which was probably missing with the duo of Cody and James from Phasma.
Overall the reimaging of Ghost from the Machine is for me a successful one, with both films being completely watchable and enjoyable. I predicted the ending, but if you don’t it might just place a cherry on top of this already great film. For me, I liked the newer version just a smidgen more.
OPENING IN SELECT THEATERS VOD AND VIA DIGITAL PLATFORMS ON JULY 27 2018
I give Our House 4 ghosts who mimick Psycho out of 5
Sneaky Homages to 80’s Films You Might Have Caught
Ethan wears a red sweater which is the same as the one from E.T.
The floor in the kitchen is the same as the floor in Twin Peaks.
Words by Vanessa Stewart Gary Gamble is the founder of Moviehooker. My website vanessasnonspoilers.com