Ghostland (2018)

Ghostland (aka Incident in a Ghostland)
Director: Pascal Laugier
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Crystal Reed, Mylène Farmer, Anastasia Phillips, Emilia Jones, Taylor Hickson, Kevin Power, Rob Archer
Seen on: 18.3.2018
Part of: /slash Filmfestival special screening

Pauline (Mylène Farmer) inherita a house from her aunt. She moves there with her two daughters, Beth (Emilia Jones) and Vera (Taylor Hickson). But they have barely arrived when they are attacked in the house by two strangers. Pauline barely manages to save them all, but the trauma of the attack sits deep. Years later, Beth (Crystal Reed) has become a writer who just published a book about the experience, when she gets a call from her mother that she has to return home to help with her sister (Anastasia Phillips) who never got over the night. So Beth leaves her husband and kid behind and comes home – where strange things start happening again.

Ghostland is a relentless film and that lack of a break is its biggest strength, but I found it absolutely problematic and couldn’t really get into it.

I will admit that Ghostland is a powerful film. It keeps hitting you and never easing up, making it a tour de force that you can barely withstand. How much you ‘enjoy’ the experience will of course vary, but I have to say I was impressed with the punch the film carries. It’s affective, making the film tense and definitely not comfortable.

At the same time, the film does build towards a big twist that just wasn’t as twisty as the film thought it was. In fact, I found it quite predictable. Nevertheless, it wasn’t boring even for a second.

But, and that’s a big but, the film has issues. The two people who attack them are a disabled man and a genderqueer person. Making disabled and/or queer people the villains in a film has a long history and will always make me uncomfortable (and not in a good way) even when they might be trying to make a good point, but here there is just no excuse at all. These ‘freaks’ are evil personified in a film full of otherwise abled and cis-straight people and the fact that they are disabled/queer is a huge part of their evil. Laugier really should have stopped to think about this and then rewritten.

Maybe not quite as icky but icky enough is the fact that the film and Beth make a huge point of loving H.P Lovecraft and seriously, could you not have found another horror writer to admire instead of this racist, sexist old white dude, especially in a film that is entirely white and all about young women?!

The cast wasn’t bad at all, and as I said, the film does pull you in, but in the end, I really can’t recommend it because of these things.

Summarizing: Too problematic.

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