A mother and her two daughters inherit their deceased aunt’s house and are brutally attacked the night they move in. Years later, they reunite at the house and strange things begin to happen
Caution: Spoilers Ahead
Going into the film Ghostland, directed and written by Pascal Laugier, I was expecting something similar to a haunted house story or a supernatural tale, and that was not what I got. With this in mind, I somewhat enjoyed this movie while being disappointed in it at the same time.
The film starts with Pauline and her two girls on the road. On their way to their Aunt Clarisse’s house, Beth, an aspiring horror writer, and her sister Vera collide from the beginning. Vera is hard on Beth and her stories while their mother always comes to Beth’s defense. As they’re driving, a creepy candy truck passes them and the people within it wave, and I appreciated the foreshadowing. The family then stops at a gas station where Beth finds an article about a family murder where the parents were killed immediately and the children were left alive. Thanks again, foreshadowing.
When they get to the house we see Aunt Clarisse’s creepy and kooky belongings, most of them being dolls, that litter the house. Not only do we get insight into Clarisse’s personality, but it also adds to the eerie atmosphere of the film. It’s not before long when Pauline and her girls are attacked by the pair that were driving in the candy truck earlier, which sets up the rest of the film’s plot. The attacks are somewhat gruesome and disturbing, and so is the body horror that is throughout the film, although nothing really stood out.
After the attacks, a grown Beth wakes up from the nightmare that she had of them. We get a glimpse into her life; she has become a very successful horror author. Beth also has a loving husband and son. One night when she gets a call from her mentally ill sister, Beth decides to go back to the house. After she is at the house a while we discover that things are not what they seem. The major plot twist in this film turns out to be that Beth has been imagining her adult life as a coping mechanism while being held captive by the murderous strangers; this was an interesting aspect of the narrative, although it may be a bit predictable to some horror viewers.
I don’t mind if a twist is easily guessable if it is executed nicely, and to me this one was. I liked that it was in keeping with Beth’s character to imagine stories to help her get through a trauma. After we learn about Beth’s coping mechanism, the plot goes back and forth from reality to imagination as the girls are tortured and eventually at the end of the film, the girls are found and brought to safety.
On top of the plot twist and the way it interacts with the film’s story, I also enjoyed the setting and atmosphere that permeates the movie. There were also some disturbing and weird moments that thoroughly creeped me out.
For every good aspect of this film, there seems to be a bad one to match. First of all, the acting in some cases was mediocre at best, except for Crystal Reed who played adult Beth and Mylene Farmer who played Pauline, who excelled in their roles. In addition, the title of the film Ghostland may be slightly deceiving to some since there is no supernatural element to the film at all. Although this might not make or break the film, I find it important to include it because it was something that didn’t help the film’s case in my opinion.
The most glaring issue with this film for me was its lack of something more. While there are interesting traits and interests that the characters possess, almost everything felt forgettable. Nothing about this film was awful, but nothing about this film was exceptional either. Throughout the story, I was hoping for villains that had more depth and were at least a little interesting, but what I got was a pair of house intruders that were very dull apart from the disgusting things that they did to the girls. They were underwhelming, to say the least. This also goes to Vera and Beth, we only get a few details about who they are and I just didn’t connect to characters in any way, leaving the viewing experience just okay in my eyes.
Overall, Ghostland was enjoyable for a one-time viewing but I just don’t think it will make it into my list of favorites. It was simply alright.
I give Ghostland a C.