Ghost House (2017) Review
Familiar demon movie has a few good scares.
Ghost House is a 2017 horror film about a young couple who go on an adventurous vacation to Thailand only to find themselves haunted by a malevolent spirit after naively disrespecting a Ghost House.
Demonic possessions are no place for innovation when it comes to horror movies, the premise done so often, the grooves in the running tropes are set in concrete. All any filmmaker can really do is dress it up in new colors and maybe throw in a dash of some culture and hope for the best. Now comes Rich Ragsdale‘s Ghost House, a film by its generic title alone is signal enough that the wheels will be rolling steadily on well worn tracks, even it is loaded with ambition.
After a brief creepy opening that does some demon introductions, we meet Julie (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Jim (James Landry Hebert) on a trip to Bangkok, looking to have the time of their young lives, with a surprise wedding proposal even in play. It’s not long before they run into fellow vacationers Robert (Russell Geoffrey Banks) and Billy (Rich Lee Gray), who know the place fairly well and promise to show them some local culture to celebrate the coming nuptials. After a night on the town, they journey into the forests to a ghost house graveyard where they end up cursing Julie and now she’s in a heap of trouble as a female demon is on the loose and looking to make Julie’s life a nightmare.
All that probably sounds familiar if you’ve even a passing exposure to horror films with Ghost House rigidly following the standards set well before, even going bigger on many of them. There’s no subtlety here, which is the point I suppose, and the film barrels along stirring in the main ingredients as quickly as it can, playing into the numerous clichés with an admittedly high level of energy. The demon, known as a Watabe is another old withery witch with long tendril like fingers and nails and clicks about with disjointed movements, helped mightily by camera editing. She’s got a thing for young women and is on a quest to carry Julie to the ghost world. Sam Raimi‘s Drag Me To Hell is a clear influence, though not the only one it borrows from, however perhaps it’s no more guilty than the rest.
Cultural sensitivity is not high on the list of course, though that’s to be expected, wrapping Thailand in a world of witchcraft and strangeness. Images of impoverished “creepy” natives and such are a mainstay. Then there’s Gogo (Michael S. New), the local driver they hire who fills them in on the lore. He’s not really that developed, though none are. To pad the story, artificial conflicts are propped up, such as misunderstandings about fidelity and Billy’s crush on Julie. Jim goes into a strip club with Robert leaving Julie literally at the establishment’s front door to wait. Not exactly the kind of guy you might want to spend the rest of your life with.
When the horror does come, they are none you haven’t seen before with plenty of bombastic jump scares and thunderous musical booms to accompany them (Ragsdale also did the score). This is about having a perfunctory horror experience, one that is designed entirely to capitalize on a very successful formula with nary a single deviation from the recipe and for many, that will be all that is required. Ragsdale seems to understand this and as such, puts a pretty palpable effort into generating the most from the material. Certainly, there is potential yet too often it misses opportunities to make this better than it should be. Fans of the genre may find something of value.
Ghost House (2017) Review
Movie description: Ghost House is a 2017 horror film about a young couple who go on an adventurous vacation to Thailand only to find themselves haunted by a malevolent spirit after naively disrespecting a Ghost House.
Director(s): Rich Ragsdale
Actor(s): Scout Taylor-Compton, James Landry Hébert, Mark Boone Junior