Supernatural fame

FORGET the glitz and the glamour of celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival – Junee’s Monte Cristo has film distributors and audiences buzzing.

An Australian horror film based on the ghosts and legends of the haunted house has taken the Marche du Film at the Cannes Film Festival by surprise with eight worldwide film distributors currently in negotiations with the director.

Muirhouse, filmed in Junee in June 2010, centres on Phillip Muirhouse, a ghost hunter on a publicity tour. He takes to Monte Cristo to confirm the existence of ghosts.

When his team of hunters fails to turn up, he decides to break the golden rule of hunting – never be alone.

Just 20 minutes after its first screening at Cannes, the film was picked up as an official selection for the renowned US Fright Night Film Festival.

And now it’s the talk of the Australian film industry as film distributors vie for the movie, much to the delight of first-time director Tanzeal Rahim.

WARNING: This video might contain offensive language.

The 75-minute film has audiences on edge particularly when they discover it includes real supernatural experiences of the cast and crew.

“All anyone wants to talk about is Junee and the house,” Mr Rahim said.

“People can’t believe it’s a real place and the legends of the house. It’s been an overwhelming response.”

The reaction to the film has been welcomed, given what the cast and crew had to go through to capture the legends of Monte Cristo.

The film features paranormal activity, which Mr Rahim is unable to explain.

“In one scene there is a horrid face formed on a wall and in another a strange light runs along the bed,” he said.

“The worst was the third day of shooting where the footage shows a fog rising under the table in the dining room while I am giving Iain, who plays Phillip, direction.”

The strange phenomena didn’t end there with a female actor inconsolable after seeing the ghost of Elizabeth Crawley, equipment malfunctions and physical reactions to certain sections of the house.

Lead actor Iain PF McDonald said he could pinpoint moments in the film when he was not acting but genuinely reacting to unexplained occurrences in the house.

Ghost believers and non-believers can’t deny the film has given Monte Cristo and Junee worldwide exposure.

“Although there were no objections (to filming) when we were in Junee, the local people picked up really quickly we were making a movie about the house,” Mr Rahim said.

“The town was so polarized. Half the people we met loved the idea of the house – and all the tourism it brought in. The other half hated the place.

“They felt that Junee should not be judged or celebrated with the horrors that occurred in that place.”

A number of local residents took part in the filming, including the son of Monte Cristo owners Reg and Olive Ryan, Laurence Legend, who co-ordinated the stunts.

Mr and Mrs Ryan haven’t seen the film yet, but said they weren’t surprised by the amount of attention Junee and

the house was receiving.

“It’s no surprise at all,” Mr Ryan said. “We have people from all around the world checking us out; we’re a bit used to it all.”

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