Incident in a Ghostland 2018 Movie Scene Emilia Jones as Young Beth and Taylor Hickson as Young Vera seeing intruders break into their house

Incident in a Ghostland [2018]

I really can’t explain why I didn’t check out this movie sooner. It somehow flew under my radar despite several positive signs. Incident in a Ghostland is an incredibly effective and genuinely scary psychological horror movie featuring a refreshing twist on familiar genre tropes. Before we go any further, I must tell you that you’ll need to stick with this one through the seemingly rocky second act. Just trust me and keep watching the movie, it will get increasingly better and better. We will be following two sisters who are still reeling from a vicious home invasion they endured along with their mother some twenty years earlier. While the younger sister Beth somewhat recovered, Vera is still having nightmares.

The first thing that I thought when I started watching this movie was here we go again. Here we go again with a single mother with two teenage daughters who just inherited a creepy old house. A creepy old house full of all these creepy old dolls which makes things feel even more generic and stereotypical. I feel like the director Pascal Laugier gave himself the challenge to create a refreshing and effective horror movie from elements we’ve seen in countless others. Just to be perfectly clear, this is an English-speaking movie featuring high production values. The cinematography is a blend of an intense European one and an aesthetically pleasing American one.

You can say the same thing about the atmosphere. Now, if that name seems a bit familiar, it’s because Pascal is the guy behind the most fucked up horror movie I’ve ever seen, Martyrs. As the tip of the spear of New French Extremity, it’s a freaking masterpiece. Incident in a Ghostland is not that graphic and gory. This is a perfectly balanced movie, edited to perfection. And the script is even better. You really start to appreciate good writing only after a couple of shitty ones. The opening act is a work of art. It’s realistic and brutal featuring such kinetic stunts that I’m still seeing some of them. Especially the first one, when the mother bounces off a wall and then a kitchen cabinet.

This whole sequence puts to shame all the other home invasion movies. As I’ve said, what follows is a bit calmer second act that will get better with time. It’s not boring or anything it’s just that you’ll have many questions that will be answered eventually, trust me. Young Taylor Hickson and Emilia Jones were absolutely terrific but Anastasia Phillips and especially Crystal Reed stole the show as adult Vera and Beth. Reed’s convincing performance actually carried this entire movie. At this point, I should tell you that Incident in a Ghostland has not much to do with Lovecraft or his stories.

Lovecraft’s short story The Dreams in the Witch House does have certain similarities with the plot of this movie. Something our two heroines allude to when they mention “a Witch and an Ogre”. And the quote we see during the opening credits is from one of the characters in the movie, Beth. I think they were trying to emphasize the psychological terror and the nightmarish atmosphere with his appearance here. And H.P. himself will actually make an appearance, in flesh and blood, toward the end of the movie. However, I think that they went a bit overboard with the make-up trying to make the actor look like him.

It goes without saying that Incident in a Ghostland is a very scary movie. And I’m talking about both highly effective jump-scares and uncomfortably long and suspenseful scenes you simply don’t know how are going to end. Basically the entire last third consists of them, so you better be ready for some nasty action. I also have to add that despite all of this, the movie never turns into torture porn like Hostel or Saw. There’s a deeper meaning behind everything that’s happening. If you decide to watch this movie again, you’ll start noticing how things are connected and why certain events unfolded as they did.

This gives Ghostland a huge replay value. The house itself is carefully decorated and full of little details, some of which you’re bound to miss during the first watch. Each of the three levels has a special purpose and it feels completely different. I don’t know which one is scarier, the basement or the second floor. Although the first floor is pretty fucked up as well, symbolizing the tantalizingly elusive possibility of escape. As I’ve previously mentioned, everything is quite balanced here. And the pacing is just perfect.

Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Incident in a Ghostland, I suggest you start with Alexandre Aja’s first big hit, Haute Tension AKA Switchblade Romance. That movie covers certain aspects of Ghostland but I would also like to mention Into the Mouth of Madness and 1408. Mostly because they’re psychological horror movies unlike Switchblade Romance that’s more of a fucked up slasher.

Director: Pascal Laugier

Writer: Pascal Laugier

Cast: Crystal Reed, Anastasia Phillips, Emilia Jones, Taylor Hickson, Mylène Farmer, Rob Archer

Fun Facts: Unfortunately, while filming one of the scenes with a glass door, young actress Taylor Hickson suffered horrific facial injuries requiring 70 stitches. She subsequently sued the producers of the movie for this tragic accident.

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