Sunday, 7 October 2018

Netflix And Chill: Ghost House (2017)

Scout Taylor-Compton and James Landry Hebert star as Julie and Jim, a young couple on holiday in Thailand who end up having quite a bad time of things. All goes well initially, until they are befriended by Robert (Russell Geoffrey Banks) and Billy (Richard Gray). One big night out leads to a trip to a "ghost house" graveyard, which in turn leads to Julie becoming seriously unwell. Medical professionals can't help her. She's either imagining that she's being tormented by an evil spirit or she's actually being tormented by an evil spirit.

Let me begin by telling you what a ghost house is, in case it isn't obvious. They are small houses that are supposed to provide somewhere for spirits to reside (and, in fact, a quick Google search shows that they seem to be more commonly known as Spirit Houses). Offerings are often placed there and it is considered bad form to neglect them. Basically, to my ignorant eyes, it's a birdhouse for the dead.

Written by Kevin O'Sullivan and Jason Chase Tyrrell, from a story by Kevin and Rich Ragsdale, Ghost House is a decent mix of the kind of thing we've seen successfully marketed by Blumhouse in recent years and a healthy dose of Thai flavouring. Most of the scares are jump scares, including an extended sequence in which someone is plunged into darkness and keeps having problems with their flashlight just as something moves around them, but there's no denying that they're well done jump scares, helped by some impressive design work on the main evil spirit.

Rich Ragsdale is also the director, doing a decent job, especially when it would seem to be a relatively low-budget work (not at the bottom end of the scale, by any means, but also doesn't seem to have had any well-known companies offering to help out on the cash front). Whatever the budget was, and I can't seem to find that information just now, Ragsdale has done his best with it.

Hebert is a bit weak in his role, but that's not so bad during many of his scenes with Taylor-Compton, mainly because she does a really good job of showing the toll on her mind and body as she is being continually affected by an evil force. Her performance is so good that I will actually start looking out for her future movie appearances, and she has a few due out in the next year or so, where I was previously unimpressed by the little I had seen of her work (I blame Halloween II - 2009 - for that). Banks and Gray both do decent work as the friendly strangers who may have ulterior motives, Mark Boone Junior is enjoyable in a small, but important role, Michael S. New is very likable as a local guide named Gogo, and both Wattana Koomkrong and Wen-chu Yang do good work as, respectively, the potential saviour or destroyer of our leading lady's soul.

There's easily enough here to appeal to people who enjoy their horror films with some ghost or demonic activity in the mix. Some may resent the amount of jump scares, and all horror fans will recognise that as a common problem in many modern horrors, but I think it provides a decent helping of atmosphere to go along with those jumps.


The movie might be available here on shiny disc.
Americans can pick it up here.

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