Incident in a Ghostland
incident in a ghostland | ghostland | pascal laugier | crystal reed | mylene farmer | anastasia phillips | psychological | h.p. lovecraft | drama | mystery | thriller | france | canada | emilia jones | taylor hickson | kevin power | rob archer | mariam bernstein
Film: Incident in a Ghostland
Director: Pascal Laugier
Writer: Pascal Laugier
Starring: Crystal Reed, Mylène Farmer and Anastasia Phillips
This film was one that I made sure to watch during my year-end round up of horror films released from the year. I heard there was a good twist and that quite a few people really liked it. I’m also a fan of the writer/director, Pascal Laugier, especially his film Martyrs. I’ve now given it a second watch as part of the Summer Series for the Podcast Under the Stairs. The official synopsis is a mother of two who inherits a house is confronted with murderous intruders on the first night in their new home and fights for her daughters’ lives. Sixteen years later when the daughters reunite at the house, things get strange.
We kick off with a quote on H.P. Lovecraft. It shifts to three women in a car. The mother is Pauline (Mylène Farmer). Her youngest daughter is Beth (Emilia Jones) who is a huge fan of Lovecraft and she is reading her latest story that is in the vein of fiction written by him. The older daughter is Vera (Taylor Hickson) who doesn’t think it is that good and tells her sister that she needs to live in the real world. She needs to not live in her head so much. They then go to a local store where Beth reads a newspaper headline about someone attacking families where they kill the parents and torture the daughter. The trio is spooked by a large candy truck on the road as well.
Things take a turn that night when they’re attacked by two individuals. One of them is slender and known as Candy Truck Woman (Kevin Power) from the credits. Beth refers to her as a witch. Her accomplice is Fat Man (Rob Archer) and he is thought to be an ogre by her. Pauline does what she can to save her daughters and Beth runs away.
We then shift into the future where Beth is now Crystal Reed. She is a successful writer and her latest book is her best yet. It is recounting the events of what happened to her that night and it is titled Incidents in a Ghostland. Things take a turn when she gets a call from her sister. She is in a panic. Beth decides to go home, leaving her husband and child. Her mother is caring for Vera, who is now Anastasia Phillips, who is still reliving the events that happened all those years ago.
Beth thinks it is all in her head, but something very strange happens and the truth is much more horrifying that she could ever imagine.
Now I’m going to try to stay as spoiler free as possible with this review, mostly because this is one, I think that you need to experience. Where I’ll start is that it makes sense that Laugier also did this movie. There are similarities here to Martyrs, which is one of my favorite movies. This one isn’t as brutal as that film, but it has some of those elements for sure. There were times where it made me cringe.
Since I won’t spoil what the reveal is, I like what this movie does with the title of this and the novel that Beth wrote. To go along with this, there are call backs to certain things that make sense as you connect them. This isn’t necessarily even big things either. Really good writing like this is something that sucks me into a film and this one did that. Something else here that I want to discuss is our two villains. I heard someone else discussing this movie and they brought up how the ‘witch’ and ‘ogre’ are ways that a child would describe those attacking them. There is also an element of the girls needing to pretend to be dolls. The ogre looks to have been made fun of growing up, so when he hears laughing, that sends him in a rage. It makes a lot of sense.
Moving from the story I’ll go over to the pacing which I thought was good as well. It never hit a lull where I was bored and the twist to the film blew me away that first time. It does something where you don’t know if the characters are crazy. It references back to something that Vera says to Beth and I like what they’re doing with it. It is hard to blame Beth and what she is doing to handle the situation. It is sad and she shouldn’t have to if I’m going to be honest. It also has a nice section where it starts to let up and then it just comes back down on you, which worked for me. It gives you time to breath, but you also don’t feel completely comfortable.
The acting was good as well. I thought Reed in her role was good. I found her quite attractive as well, which never hurts. Farmer was solid as the mother. It’s heartbreaking trying to watch her take on these villains. Phillips works well in the role that she had as well. Seeing her breakdown constantly is heartbreaking. Jones was good as the younger version of Beth. She does have to show quite a bit of strength, even though she is told by Vera she is weak. Hickson is solid in a different way that really works as well. Seeing what they both go through made me feel bad, which is what I think the movie wants. Power and Archer I thought were solid as the two villains for sure. I like the motives for Archer and it is quite sad. It is a solid move if you can feel bad for the villains, despite the atrocities they are committing. Other than that, I think the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed.
I came in expecting that the effects would be good after seeing Laugier in charge. They seemed to go practical for pretty much everything and it looked brutally real. The effects of some of the blows to people on their faces looked quite realistic and it made me feel worse for them. They look like they’ve gone through hell by the end. There are also some interesting things that are done by looking through glass that I liked. It helps with the twist of the film for sure. I’d say the cinematography as also well done.
Now with that said, this is another solid movie from Laugier. I thought the story was great as well as its twist. Making at least one of the villains have a reason is interesting. I thought the acting was solid. The pacing of the film is good and it never gets boring. How the film ends I was all for as well. The effects were on point and looked real. The score of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt it. This film isn’t really one I would recommend to everyone, only because of the realistic violence. If you can handle that and want to see an interesting story, I’d recommend this one, especially if you like the other movies from this writer/director. I found this to be a good film for sure and it held up after this second viewing.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10