‘Leave it alone’
Ghost House is a 2017 American/Thai horror film directed by Rich Ragsdale (The Curse of El Charro) from a screenplay by Kevin O’Sullivan and Jason Chase Tyrrell, based on a story by Rich and Kevin Ragsdale. It stars Scout Taylor-Compton, James Landry Hébert and Mark Boone Junior.
A young couple, Jim and Julie, are vacationing in Thailand where Julie falls in love with photographing small shrines called ghost houses that are believed to give spirits shelter and comfort.
A couple of British travelers take them into the countryside with the promise of showing Jim and Julie a ghost house graveyard where many of the shrines are discarded.
After leaving the graveyard with a souvenir, Julie is increasingly plagued by visits from a malevolent spirit that threatens both her sanity and her life. After Julie is literally frozen in a state of terror, Jim must find a way to lift the curse before he loses Julie to the ghost world forever…
In North America, Ghost House is released on DVD on September 19, 2017, by Lions Gate.
Buy DVD: Amazon.com
Ghost House is the first feature from Ragsdale brothers Rich and Kevin; the pair have created an unsettling and twisted story about a scorned woman who unleashes her wrath upon young ladies who tamper with her “ghost house” – the shrine left behind to keep her at bay.
As legend has it, you are to worship the spirits through offerings to symbolize your faith and respect in the Thai villages that house them. The most evil spirit lurks in a remote countryside, where the ghost house graveyard resides.
American couple Julie (Taylor-Compton) and Jim (Hébert) are vacationing in Thailand when they stumble upon one in a local shop. Mesmerized by the tale, Julie’s interest peaks and she is taken in by the folklore that leads her deep into the woods with two British strangers (Banks and Gray). And within moments, Julie is the victim of the scorned ghoul’s spirit trying to eat her soul.
Scout Taylor Compton, a ‘scream queen’ from Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake, shines as the tormented and visibly pained Julie. Inquisitive, trusting and sympathetic, Julie tries to ward off this crazed ghost with all her might, but to no avail. Reminding me of Drag Me to Hell’s Allison Lohman, Compton completes her transformative fear with surrender.
Her new fiancé, Jim, is an average, skeptical millennial who obviously knows best and has trouble expressing a convincing concern for his love. Especially when he is so easily influenced by Robert (Banks) to jump into a local strip club and take advantage of the entertainment.
Russell Banks is a star, commanding the audience’s attention into his secret sinister plot (no spoilers here!) He is charming, playful and ominous. In effect, he pulls the story together into what will become Julie’s impending demise, but with better intention that predicted.
In similar form to The Ring or The Grudge, there are jump scares behind every door, every window… and when you least expect it. The wretched, decomposing sounds of the villainous apparition is like nails on a chalkboard, but the effects are so incredible you will be drawn by dread to see what happens next. She is one creepy looking bitch!
Ragsdale pulls from great influences such as his Lynch-esque scene that follows Jim through a seedy underground club to meet the infamous Reno, a bloated and condescending Mark Boone Junior who continues to perform with flair as he proposes alternatives to Julie’s predicament.
Alongside cab-driver and sidekick “Gogo” (think Indiana Jones’ Short Round as an adult), Michael S. New gives us insight into the mysterious Ghost House traditions that will likely consume Julie’s soul in a matter of days. The race against the clock begins and it’s a jaunt you’ll want to watch.
Meredith Brown, Horrorpedia
“Pyrotechnician Anthony Delzio had his hands full with this project. Something is always going up in flames, within Ghost House. Also, director Rich Ragsdale pulls double duty as composer. The music is often tense or sombre, depending on the tone of the film. There is a bit of an East meets West mythology here […] Fans of indie horror are encouraged to seek out the fiery good time that is Ghost House.” Michael Allen, 28 Days Later Analysis
” …while Ghost House certainly has its fair share of stumbles, mainly in the way of editing inconsistencies, oddly misplaced musical pieces, and Jim, it still manages to be a highly energetic, gorgeously shot ghost story. The strength of the film, especially in the back half, are it’s wildly chilling visuals. This is absolutely crucial in conveying the spiritually crushing power of the curse, and boy does it deliver in that regard…” Jeremiah Rosario, 13th Floor
“Strip away the setting and the ghost, and Ghost House is revealed as little more than a humourless, fun-free rehash of Drag Me to Hell. Some elements work well, but the rest is let down by predictable storytelling and truly awful acting. Stick with the far superior trailer; the main event is a limp, un-spirited slog.” Joel Harley, Nerdly
“This isn’t homogenized filmmaking; you get the location, you see the people who live there too. Ghost House makes no attempts at redefining its Tartan Asia Extreme roots, but the soil in which it’s planted is rich with talent, a beautiful score, stunning cinematography and an engaging story. The result is an overall experience ripe with satisfying supernatural low-hanging fruit.” Timothy Rawles, iHorror
“Ghost House has some good visuals, especially in the last ten minutes, which spontaneously go for broke. The big finale delivers the kind of throw-caution-to-the-wind, over-the-top fun the rest of the picture is too sluggish to muster up. It’s all too little, too late, however. The other 89 minutes of Ghost House are so routine and substance-free that no last-minute miracle can make a difference.” Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat
“Maybe not the reinvention of the genre, Ghost House is still a charming piece of horror that makes perfect use of its Thai settings and gives its horror a definite Thai paint. But the film also works due to very decent pacing, coupled with a nice combination of atmosphere, suspense, and jump scares, as well as some very creepy visuals. “Mike Haberfelner, Search My Trash
“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.” David Duprey, That Moment In
“ …Ghost House burns out midway through the movie and is somewhat unsuccessful with regaining its pace by the final confrontation. The viewer, and I’m in this group, will be looking for more otherworldly scares that Ghost House just doesn’t deliver on. Being that this is a horror film, you need more than extremely talented actors, a great concept not explored in the genre yet, and fantastic production values.” Horror Society
Scout Taylor-Compton (Edge of Insanity; Halloween (2007); Halloween II; et al), James Landry Hébert (Psychopaths; Carnage Park; Dylan Dog: Dead of Night), Mark Boone Junior (30 Days of Night; Dead Birds; Se7en), Russell Geoffrey Banks (Who’s Watching Oliver; Pernicious), Michael S. New, Elana Krausz, Katrina Grey, Rich Lee Gray.
Image credits: 28 Days Later Analysis