8/13/2019

Incident in a Ghostland (Review)

Title: Incident in a Ghostland
Writer/ Director: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Crystal Reed, Mylène Farmer, Anastasia Phillips, Emilia Jones, Taylor Hickson, Kevin Power
Min: 91
Year: 2018

Pauline (Mylène Farmer) has recently inherited her sister Clarissa's secluded house. She travels to the house with her two teenage daughters, the slightly more rebellious Vera (Taylor Hickson) and Beth (Emilia Jones) who is inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and likes to write horror fiction. At a rest stop, Beth reads an article about a series of home invasions where the parents are killed but the daughters are spared. What they don't know is that someone in a candy truck is stalking them.

They settle in for the night, but then suddenly a large, obese man breaks in. The Fat Man (Rob Archer) attacks Pauline, and the goes for the girls, dragging them to the basement. A strange woman soon joins them, who says that that they just want to play with dolls. The Fat Man assaults both girls. When he smells that Beth has had her period, he turns his perverse attention and focus on to Vera. Pauline recovers and stabs both the Fat Man and the Candy Truck Woman (Kevin Power) killing them.

Sixteen years later, Beth has grown into a beautiful and successful woman ( now played by Crystal Reed). She is a popular horror author and lives with her husband and their son. She is on a talk show promoting her latest work Incident in a Ghostland, which is inspired by the horrific events of that night. Later, she receives a frantic phone call from her sister (Anastasia Phillips), who still lives with their mom in the same house.
Beth, haunted by her own nightmares, travels to see what she can do to help her sister and mom. There her mother Pauline tells her that Vera cannot move on and is still traumatized and anguished by those events. Soon, Beth, herself, is haunted by strange happenings and Vera says that her assailants are still after them.

Incident in a Ghostland is a deeply searing psychological horror film from French genre writer/ director Paul Lagier, whose classic Martyris a brutal masterpiece. And, I am very happy to report that unlike his disappointing and uneven 2012 movie, The Tall Man, this one hits all the marks. And, boy are these marks ever scarring.

The opening home invasion is intense and very violent. It's one fucking hell of a way to start off and sets the unflinching tone which is kept throughout much of the flick's running time. It is also an excellent study of PTSD and the utter horrors of child abuse. This all results is a nightmarish experience that stays with the viewer, well after it is all said and done.
Laugier manages to disturb and unnerve his audience. And, while for some filmmakers this might not be an easy task, for Laugier, it is something that is right up his alley. The film does use a bunch of jump scares. However, they usually work, because they are actual scares and not fake outs. This ads to the tension that Laugier expertly knows how to build up. The climax will have your heart jumping out of your chest and nails buried deep into your seat. It ends on a very satisfying note, even if you feeling completely fucking drained by the time it's over.

The violence and bloodletting is equally harsh and graphic, keeping the audience's nerves on their very edge. The movie isn't ever light nor funny, and considering the heavy subject matter, it shouldn't be. This all results in a film that has much in common with '70's horror than what is currently out there, which is a huge plus for me.

The acting here is phenomenal. It is some of the finest you are likely to see in a horror movie this year, as their suffering is very palatable. Crystal Reed gives a very strong performance as Beth. She allows her character's pain, strength, and loving and protective nature to really come forth. Anastasia Phillips is incredible as Vera. Her screams of physical and emotional pain are utterly heartbreaking. Seeing her nude, clutching her doll, and begging for help in one scene is one of the most heart-wrenching things that you are likely to see in a genre film. Mylène Farmer gives excellent support as the loving and goodhearted mother.

Incident in a Ghostland is a brutal, intense, and emotionally draining experience. One that left me feeling many powerful emotions and completely consumed me. The acting is utterly phenomenal; giving the movie its emotional center and strength. Disturbing and haunting, it is the most soul crushing horror movie of the year. And, as it begins streaming exclusively on Shudder this Thursday, August 15, 2019, I give you my highest possible recommendation to watch.


4 out of 4

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