Incident in a Ghost Land, 2018.
Directed by Pascal Laugier.
Starring Crystal Reed, Anastasia Phillips, Emilia Jones, Taylor Hickson, and Mylène Farmer.
Pauline (French pop icon Mylène Farmer) and her two daughters Beth and Vera inherit a house in the countryside. On the first night in their new home the family are confronted by murderous intruders and Pauline fights for her daughters lives. Sixteen years later, Beth has become a successful fantasy author in the H.P. Lovecraft tradition, and with trepidation finally returns to the same house… only to find she will never forget the trauma.
Incident in a GhostLand tricked me. The first twenty minutes or so play out like your typical, modern, haunted house horror. It’s full of not so subtly creepy dolls, the sign of a ghostly presence, and LOUD NOISES. I was disappointed. The man who brought the world Martyrs, a stomach churning dive into depraved body horror, had thrown away his artistic credibility to make an easy to swallow jump-scare fest. Then the twist hit, and everything changed.
This is a film that needs to be seen spoiler free. For that reason, I’m not going to say much about it, but I will take a moment to shower praise.
Firstly, anyone who read my Ghost Stories review will know that I’m not a fan of last minute twists that undermine the rest of the film. The twist in Incident in a GhostLand would be exactly that kind of twist if it came at the end of the movie. But it doesn’t. It comes before the middle and creates a whole new and far more interesting plotline than the one that came before it. It also weaves the previous plotline into the new arc as a way of developing the main character. It’s an incredibly slick move and a great piece of storytelling.
I must warn any potential viewers that this second plotline is incredibly disturbing. There are some incredibly rough depictions of abuse, including rape, and an unsettling take on mental delusions. The filmmaking isn’t exploitative – in fact, it’s very well done – but it is incredibly nerve-wracking, stressful, and uncomfortable to watch. If you’re a hardcore horror fan, this will be just up your alley. There are few films that create tension quite as well as Ghostland. However, if you’re somewhat uninitiated, I suggest you hold off on watching this for a while.
The general quality of the film is a small step above average horror as well. Though it’s hardly a beautiful film, the set design, editing, direction, and sound design all have their own bit of flair. There are a few too many jumpscares, but most of them are preceded by enough tension to warrant them.
The whole cast put on excellent performances, and special credit must be given to Emilia Jones, who at only sixteen bears the brunt of the film’s emotional weight.
Incident in a GhostLand is certainly a hard film to watch, especially in its later moments, and it’s understandable why some critics and viewers will have a hard time stomaching it. However, hardcore horror fans shouldn’t find it too unbearable, and it’s certainly a step down in terms of grossness from Martyrs.
I heartily recommend Incident in a GhostLand to any hardcore horror fan.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
James Turner is a writer and musician based in Sheffield. You can follow him on Twitter @JTAuthor