Pascal Laugier returns with Incident in a Ghostland
French director Pascal Laugier (Martyrs) dives into “the home invasion” sub genre, amping it up with a dose of psychopaths that aren’t here just to cause havoc – they’re here to move in.
Incident in a Ghostland follows teenage sisters Beth (Emilia Jones) and Vera (Taylor Hickson) driving toward their new home in the middle of nowhere with their mom, Pauline (singer Mylène Farmer). When stopping at a gas station along the way, the first page of a newspaper addressing another family murdered in the area, sets the mood for what’s to come. When a menacing candy truck honks at them, it’s clear they might not be so alone after all..
The director’s first feature was the extremely disturbing Martyrs, which was released around the time the first chapter of the Saw-franchise played in theatres. Although Martyrs took torture porn to a level only snuff films could go, it did have an interesting take on eternal life. Ghostland takes a different route and blends a home invasion with a slasher flick. The girls get attacked by a couple of psychopaths, soon after they arrive at their new home. The mother gets stabbed violently while the girls have to fight off some sort of manlike “ogre”, who puts them through a series of brutish punishments.
Prologue is Past and Past is Prologue
The abuse goes deeper than just physical and starts to damage their mental health. We never get an explanation on why all of this happens and where these two killers come from. The story takes a massive turn halfway through, that makes you question everything you just witnessed. The viewer’s mind gets put to the test once again when the line between flashbacks and the present gets blurred and we no longer know what is real and not. A very bold way for Laugier to tell this gruesome story. The atmosphere gets set perfectly with the help of production designer Gordon Wilding and cinematographer Danny Nowak. For me it worked perfectly and made me more alert on what the more underlying message of this story could be. These girls subconsciously try to escape the torture they have to endure.
Or is it all just a nightmare that happened many years ago? The now adult Beth (Crystal Reed) wakes up screaming in her loft like apartment. Happily married and raising a young boy, she is also a bestselling author who has just released her new book “Incident in a Ghostland“. After receiving a distressing call from her sister Vera (Anastasia Phillips), she decides to go back to the house that still haunts her dreams. Her mother and sister never moved out after that horrifying event, which cause for Beth’s memories to slowly poor back in and materialise once again.
Mylène Farmer is Impressive
Farmer’s acting is decent, yet her dialogue is tough to understand with a heavy French accent. The women who play Vera and Beth, both the younger and adult-versions, do an amazing job at showing the emotional trauma these characters go through and how deep this gets embedded into their psyche. Very impressive work.
The women get put through so much torture, it’s at times a tad bit too cruel to see them suffer – even for a horror fan like me. The sadistic ways the mentally handicapped ogre torments these girls, gets pushed even further when it all becomes a bit too pedophilic when his companion dresses them like life size dolls who he can “play” with and toss around as much he pleases.
Incident in a Ghostland can be challenging to sit through, because of its subject matters. It’s however worth checking out, even just for the great acting and production design. Another reason not to move to the middle of nowhere, before “Home Alone-ing” your entire house.
Incident in a Ghostland is available on Blu-Ray.
How did we rate Incident in a Ghostland? 4 Sodas
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Passionate about film. When I’m not in a cinema, you’ll find me in nature. Multilingual.