There are not of lot of things right about a horror-comedy film when the horror is uninspired and unoriginal and the comedy is mildly amusing at best and outright offensive at worst. Generally speaking, you want at least one of those two things to work to at least cover up for the other one but if neither one is worth much of anything, it begs the question why did they make it in the first place? Such is the case with Ghost Team One, a mess of a film that makes the most recent Wayans’ parodies look like Moliere.
The plot centers around two friend-roommates, Sergio (Carlos Santos) and Brad (J.R. Villarreal) and their third, high-strung in-recovery roommate Chuck (Tony Cavalero) who suspect the home they share is haunted. They meet a woman, by chance at a party (Fernanda) who is very interested in hauntings and ghosts and especially in their school (I think) project of documenting paranormal activity in their house. She comes aboard to help them document the potential haunting and becomes a central figure in determining what seems to set the ghost off and what might be happening.
The interactions between Brad and Sergio are grating: Brad being the sex-obsessed knucklehead and Sergio the shy but steadfast foil. This is a comedy formula done ten thousand times previous with much better results. Here, we’re not given enough to care about from either of them so there isn’t anyone to root for or invest in. Neither character are very consistent from one scene to another and this makes for a total lack of continuity or ark. Apart from them, Chuck serves only to, I’m assuming here, make fun of people in recovery for alcohol or drug-abuse. His erratic and loud, angry behavior seem to only punctuate this joke made further embarrassing by his ‘video confessionals’ done online as a kind of video diary of his recovery and sobriety. A knee-slapping running joke if there ever was one.
Once Fernanda enters the picture, Brad and Sergio become hostile toward one-another, competing for her affections. Not lost on this are that this woman is not only a little screwy, but has a boyfriend. The boyfriend and the red flags of her strangeness about ghosts don’t seem to alarm either guy or cause them to back off (even for Brad, with a girlfriend of sorts of his own) at all and so instead of Fernanda being a strong female character, she is a two dimensional piece of tail to continually chase. This leads to a shallow ‘him or me’ scene that is unmotivated and serves to distance to two leads from the audience even more.
As the crux of the hauntings come into focus (a Vietnamese teen prostitute ghost agitated by sexual situations), the film makes what I would consider to be a completely unforgivable sin and renders the viewer dumbstruck. Dumbstruck by how a group of filmmakers would think it okay to dress a white male actor in Asian-inspired dress and makeup and have him serve up an ugly, sour stereotypical accent once he’s become possessed by the ghost. This decision and complete lack of thought (clearly) render the rest of the film an exercise in endurance that I only slogged through out of sheer stubbornness. I could not believe (and still cannot) that a group of people with enough talent to throw this thing together could so blindly miss this putrid display of racist comedy-riffing as being a poor choice and something best left on the cutting room floor.
How is this possible? My guess, after doing a little research into the film, is that because a lot of the script was improv/ad-libbed on the fly, this group likely did not have a lot of checks and balances when it came to someone telling them no. No outside voice of reason to take them to task on this glaringly racist approach to an already paper-thin plot twist. Would it have mattered? Maybe not, but I’d like to think that with a few more irons in the fire, so to speak, they would have tried a little harder and could have avoided the stomach-churning, sexually and racially tonedeaf finale to an already dull, uninteresting and mostly unfunny film.