Ghostland shows Pascal Laugier returning to his horror roots. This is no Hollywood production and it shows – in the best way. Also, you will be jumping in your seat. Both from sheer joy and absolute terror!
However, Ghostland is most definitely something that feels like it came from that same mind. There are mind games and confusion, but Laugier manages to always keep the audience in the loop. We even get little clues along the way and any hardcore horror fan will know where he is taking us with the story.
Still, surprises are in store as well. And – unfortunately – some pretty outdated tropes as well, which I really didn’t care for.
Also, I have to mention that I was very surprised at some of the special effects make-up. It was not good. It was not very realistic at all and I have honestly seen better make-up in several very low-budget movies. A very strange place to cut corners and not choose some of the best people. Surely people are lining up to work on his productions due to Martyrs.
You can watch the trailer for Ghostland right here or continue reading our review below.
One cool mamma!
I really didn’t know much about Ghostland before watching it at a Danish horror movie film festival [Blodig Weekend 2018]. And honestly, I didn’t need to. This is one of those cases, where the director alone is reason enough to watch the movie.
Within the first 15-20 minutes, you know you made the right choice. While creepy elements happen early on, it suddenly kicks into very high gear and you find yourself just holding on. In fact, you might need to remind yourself to breathe.
The story features a mom with two teenage daughters. The mom is one cool character and at one point I felt like she was one of the most badass moms, I had ever seen. I could easily watch a feature film of her defending her daughters and be happy.
But, of course, nothing is as simple as that. And Ghostland throws quite a few curveballs along the way.
The mom, Pauline, is portrayed by Mylène Farmer and she was just awesome! Pascal Laugier should include her in every movie he does from now on, and I would be a very happy horror fan.
Past and present intertwined
The story in Ghostland features a time jump of sorts, which means we see the two daughters as both teenagers and adults. The adult versions are portrayed by Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf) and Anastasia Phillips (Reign). They both give amazing performances though I had to get over the very invasive “new” lips on Crystal Reed. Sorry, but it’s hard not to get distracted when we get a lot of close-ups.
The teenage version of Beth and Vera are portrayed by Emilia Jones (High-Rise) and Taylor Hickson (Deadpool) respectively. There is a very unfortunate and tragic story surrounding the production of Ghostland. Taylor Hickson went through a glass pane and has been severely scarred – most notably in her face. It’s was an accident that should never have happened and hopefully, she will be very well compensated.
Regardless of the accident, both the young actresses also gave amazing performances. Especially Taylor Hickson was the runaway star for me. She starts out as a very typical teenager, who feels everyone is against her but ends up being very focused and determined. Emilia Jones really didn’t have as much to work with, since the adult version of her character (Crystal Reed) had a lot more screen time.
Pascal Laugier knows horror
There can be no doubt that writer and director, Pascal Laugier, knows how to create horror. His screenplays are innovative and he knows exactly how to make your skin crawl. For me, this is nowhere near Martyrs, which is already a horror classic. And yes, it has an American remake, which isn’t bad at all but do watch the original.
However, even though I would not put Ghostland in the same (very small) league of Martyrs, it is still better than 90% of horror movies released. I was annoyed that he went for a few of the “easy” villains in this movie. In fact, this even ruined part of the experience for me. I mean, this is Pascal “Martyrs” Laugier. Surely he can come up with a different kind of villain that doesn’t hurt already vilified minorities.
On the other hand, what I really love about Laugier, is the fact that he always features women in his movies. And the women can be strong or weak and often both ugly and beautiful (inside and out). Women can be everything and anything, but they are always more than just eye-candy and work as the protagonist. Not just something to create a narrative for a male protagonist!
Ghostland is currently screening at film festivals worldwide. We watched it at the Blodig Weekend [Danish for “Bloody Weekend”] film festival in Copenhagen on April 14, 2018.
Director: Pascal Laugier
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Crystal Reed, Anastasia Phillips, Emilia Jones, Taylor Hickson, Mylène Farmer, Rob Archer, Kevin Power
The story follows a mother of two who inherits a home from her Aunt. On the first night in the new home she is confronted with murderous intruders and fights for her daughters lives. Sixteen years later when the daughters reunite at the house, and that is when things get strange.