Incident in a Ghostland (2018)

After a desperate plea from her sister, a horror writer returns to the home in which the siblings and their mother were brutally attacked sixteen years earlier.

The only thing I knew of  Ghostland was that it was Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier and the only thing I knew about Pascal Laugier was that he’d Written and Directed  Martyrs  (2008). Having seen none of Laugier’s other works was no deterrent as his 2008 ‘French New Wave’ foray ultimately left me spellbound. 

This was just as well, otherwise I may have stopped watching shortly into the jump scare reliant trope-fest that is  Ghostland’s First Act.  It was all so unimpressive.  Creepy looking dolls adorning a creaking old house while terrified women flee from evildoers hell bent on doing evil for evil’s sake.

At least the antagonists in  Martyrs  had a motivation.  In fact  Martyrs  posed a question about whether the end justified the means.  From a narrative perspective, the question was specifically, can divine knowledge be gleaned through the torture of innocents? Throughout much of Ghostland, I was wondering whether this film’s ending would justify the torturous repetition of outmoded scare tactics I’d endured thus far.  

In the second Act there’s the promise of something much deeper at play.  Specifically multiple time shifts provide a hint of probing into the psychology behind trauma.  Perhaps the over-egged First Act was a purposeful misdirection after all? The answer to this question was no.  Ghostland  remains unredeemable and is haunted by a much better and much earlier effort.

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