From director Rich Ragsdale (‘Eight Legged Freaks’ and ‘The Giant Mechanical Man’) comes this creepy horror flick set in mysterious and exotic Thailand. Jim and Julie are on vacation and Julie develops a fascination with Thai “Ghost Houses”, believed to house the spirits of the dead. They meet two English men who take them to a “Ghost House” graveyard; a place where all the “Ghost Houses” are abandoned and left untouched. Julie quickly develops strange symptoms and Jim embarks on a whirlwind journey to cure her of whatever is afflicting her. It takes them and their Thai companion, Go-Go on a trek deep into the spiritual world of rural Thailand. It’s a race against time, against evil claiming the soul of Julie.
‘Ghost House’ has, in many ways, the feel of a low budget movie. The locations live up to expectations and the premise of the story promised much. It was a great, original idea that should have delivered more than it did.
There were some genuinely inventive moments: the camera scene springs to mind. Julie is looking at the photos on her camera when she sees a string of pictures showing her at that exact moment looking at her camera, and in the last frame she is not alone in the room. This was a genuine “jump out of the seat” moment. The director has employed similar techniques when extracting the maximum tension in other scenes. There is a definite taste of Oriental horror turned American, think ‘The Ring’ and you’ll know what I mean.
That said, ‘Ghost House’ is not the greatest quality movie. The plot is predictable and some of the characters are cliched, like Reno, who exists in a seedy, netherworld surrounded by red lights, guns, hookers and torture. It’s never explained how this fat, chain-smoking American came to be such a Guru of the Thai spirit world and why he existed in the world that he did. The over-stylised meeting of Jim and Reno was more akin to a music video than a movie. And the music will get on your nerves. In some scenes the music IS the main character. I got the feeling that someone was trying a little too hard to inject some style into the movie.
The two main characters, played by Scout Taylor-Compton and James Landry never really get under your skin. There’s never that point where you actually care what happens to the them, and that’s a shame because this should have delivered on the promise of the story line alone.
‘Ghost House’ isn’t the worst horror film I’ve ever seen, but it isn’t the best by a long shot. If you are seeking some escapism and don’t want to think too much about things, then ‘Ghost House’ could well be your Friday night flick, but I like my horror a little more convincing.