01st Sep2017

‘Ghost House’ Review

by Joel Harley

Stars: Scout Taylor-Compton, James Landry Hébert, Mark Boone Junior, Michael S. New, Elana Krausz, Kevin Ragsdale, Russell Geoffrey Banks, Rich Lee Gray, Katrina Grey | Written by Rich Ragsdale, Kevin O’Sullivan, Jason Chase Tyrrell | Directed by Rich Ragsdale

ghost-house-poster

Holidaying in Bangkok, Thailand, a loved-up young American couple come a cropper when they befriend a pair of British guys at their hotel. Plied with booze and compliments, they’re driven out into the woodlands, and Julie (Taylor-Compton) is tricked into stealing a symbolic artefact from the titular ‘ghost house’. What happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok, right? Well, cursed by a furious spirit, now Julie might never leave at all…

The Thai flavour gives what is otherwise a fairly conventional ghost story a little extra spice. While there are no major surprises in the setup, scares or narrative, Ghost House makes the most of its Bangkok setting, mining the old streets and woodlands for mood and atmospherics. Being viewed through the eyes of Americans makes its many shots of ‘creepy’ looking homeless people and terrified villagers seem exploitative and condescending, but it’s still a step up from the Hostel knock-off its Bangkok setting could have been.

Everything else, however, is completely by-the-numbers supernatural horror. It shakes things up very slightly by having the boyfriend/fiancée actually be the main character (Julie spends most of the time catatonic) but he’s left jumping through the exact same hoops we’ve seen hundreds of times in horror films by now. Still, its villain looks fantastic, and is genuinely quite scary, in what little screen time she has. Less-is-more is generally a good rule to live by in horror films like these, but Ghost House feels like a missed opportunity, undercooking and underusing its malevolent spirit by a wide margin.

Which, unfortunately, only leaves us with the living. A small role for a typically scuzzy Mark Boone Junior aside, everyone in Ghost House is abjectly terrible. American, British and Thai alike, everybody is wretched in the film, delivering some of the worst performances ever seen in a theatrically released horror film. It’s a global effort, and nobody comes out of it looking good. For shame, guys.

Strip away the setting and the ghost, and Ghost House is revealed as little more than a humourless, fun-free rehash of Drag Me to Hell. Some elements work well, but the rest is let down by predictable storytelling and truly awful acting. Stick with the far superior trailer; the main event is a limp, un-spirited slog.

Ghost House is currently on limited release across the US and on VOD. The film does not have an official UK release date as yet.

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