By definition, Art is ineluctably dependent on the willingness of an audience to participate; as I recall, one eminently-logical Hollywood director astutely proffered, “a painting has no music”. But assuming the key distinction between so-called ‘high’ and ‘low’ art is merely the breathing space, or perhaps freedom, to allow one’s imagination to fill in the gaps between fact and fiction, then GHOSTWATCH might very well be considered a masterpiece.
With its surrealist themes and divisive narrative, the film hit virtually every mark required to one day be hailed as a worthy Horror flick, but it was the active participation of its viewers, the true-life ‘massive séance’, which has led to the film’s unforeseeable and lasting influence. The fact that villainous spectre, Pipes, has somewhat entered into contemporary urban mythology helps bear this theory out. Despite being an albeit fictional entity, his shadowy presence continues to linger in the backs of fans’ minds, now decades after he first interrupted our Hallowe'en night's carefully-scheduled line-up.
As the doors to the screening room finally opened, the good forty/fifty-strong crowd of Stephen Volk-fans took to their seats. The evening began with Steve explaining how he first got into screenwriting before going on to provide commentary for various clips of things he had been involved in over the years, The Deadness of Dad, Gothic, Afterlife, to name a few.
Half-way through the clip from Afterlife, the projector image froze, just as in GHOSTWATCH.
From the back of my mind, I recalled something similar was said to have happened during the filming of another BBC show entitled, Hearts of Gold. The story goes, when one of the studio lights unexpectedly blew during filming, certain members of the justifiably startled audience were heard to suggest GHOSTWATCH spook, Mr. Pipes might be responsible...
“This could be my big moment”, I thought.
Glancing up at the flickering projection screen, I could see the image was still tantalisingly frozen. The alluring silence pervaded, then suddenly, it happened:
“... It’s Pipes!” I bravely mumbled into the pitch-black hall.
For far too long a while, a truly agonising silence was my only response. That is, until the guy sitting next to me suddenly perked up with:
“Oh yeah, the poltergeist from, er...”
... He couldn’t remember. At what was essentially a GHOSTWATCH fan convention, he couldn’t remember. Ah, well.
Steve's grin widened on seeing the ‘indisputable paranormal evidence’. Mine did too.
This project and all that it has achieved can only be described as a #TeamEffort. I remain forever humbled and in awe of the growing community of Ghostwatchers who have devoted so much of their time, research, and energy in helping this important production get the recognition it sorely deserves. The experience has proven life-changing for me personally, and has taught me so much along the way.