Sandy (Carly Schroeder) and her friends have this game they play. In graveyards. At night. (You are excused for thinking this sounds like a bad idea already.) One person is the ghost and goes around tagging other people, who then become ghosts themselves and chase everyone else around until eventually the last person left “alive” is the winner. One night they’re out playing, and suddenly Random Creepy Chick pops out from behind a tombstone.
RANDOM CREEPY CHICK: Hey, can I play? We’ll all just pretend I’m not clearly crazier than a shithouse rat.
SANDY AND FRIENDS: Er… sure, I guess.
RANDOM CREEPY CHICK: Sandy! Don’t you remember me?
SANDY: Hell no, I think I would have remembered crazy-eye of that impressive degree.
RANDOM CREEPY CHICK: Ooh! You’re going to regret that.
And lo and behold, Sandy does. Not right away; but pretty soon her friends start getting slaughtered one by one. And here’s the clever part: as soon as they die, they’re basically written out of the universe as if they had never existed. No one remembers them. The lives of the survivors are rearranged around the absence, so subtly at first that it legitimately took me a while to figure out what was going on. And sure enough, the more people die, the more ghosts there are to chase the living around, until eventually there’s only one left.
Now, the “Person X disappears and no one remembers they existed except Person Y” trope is not new, to be sure. It’s just that it’s done so well here, and you’re allowed to figure out for yourself what’s going on instead of having huge amounts of expository dialogue beating you over the head all the way through. It doesn’t hurt that the acting is above par and the characters – mirabile dictu – are, despite being teenagers, actually ones I was sorry to see go. Usually herds of movie teenagers are so unpleasant that it gives me a sort of grim satisfaction to watch them get picked off one by one, but not here.
So what’s the verdict? I think I need a wider rating scale. Call this one three and a half stars. It’s not quite a four-star movie, but it’s head and shoulders above the three-star pack. It’s creative, respectful of its audience, and genuinely scary in places. Highly recommended.