Film reviews

Ghost House – Film Review

Ghost House tells the story of Jim (James Landry Hebert) and Julie (Scout Taylor-Compton), a young couple on holiday in Thailand. Everything is going well for the young couple, they’ve got a likeable, if other enthusiastic tour-guide/driver who’s taking care of them, Julie is loving photographing their surroundings, and they’ve just gotten engaged. It should be a wonderful holiday, but, it would appear that the two of them don’t know some very simple rules.

Never go off the beaten track into strange places, never accept drinks from strangers, and don’t mess with ghost houses. Some of these are fairly simple and should really be common sense for most travellers (probably not the ghost house bit to be fair though), but Jim and Julie quickly fall under the obviously creepy influence of two British holidaymakers Robert (Russell Geoffrey Banks) and Billy (Rich Lee Gray).

Despite appearing to want to celebrate the new engagement, it’s clear that something else is going on, and when the two Brits lure the young couple out into the countryside to look as a ghost house graveyard Julie is soon tricked into disturbing one of the houses, letting her fall victim to the vengeful spirit residing within.

For those wondering what a ghost house is a small shrine made as a place for restless spirits to live. Found throughout several Southeast Asian countries, spirit houses as they are known in real life, can range in size and design, but are mostly like elaborate bird tables.

The ghost house graveyard, a place filled with old and decaying ghost houses, is a very creepy location, filled with fog, twisted sculptures, and hidden danger. In fact, every time you see a ghost house (even before they make it to the grave yard) the film does its best to put you on edge, focusing on the darkness within them, with shots that slowly zoom in, lasting longer than they probably should.

Once Julie has disturbed the ghost house, however, the tension never really goes away as we see the spirit slowly worm its way into her soul. The best way to describe it is like a form of possession, but Julie is never ‘taken over’ or becomes someone else. Instead, she’s slowly drawn deeper into the spirit world, the ghost appearing and disappearing, using jumps and a sense of dread as it stalks Julie for the course of the film.

The scenes with the ghost, played by Wen-Chu Yang, are well crafted enough, with the jump scares never feeling overly forced. The times when it works best, though, are when you know that she’s coming, but the scene draws itself out, with the faint sound of the ghost getting closer the only indication that she’s around.

Whilst Julie is plagued by these ghostly apparitions Jim has to find a way to save her, leading to an adventure through the back streets of Thailand, and deep into the countryside to seek help from a witch doctor. Some of the best scenes happen once the group leaves the familiar surroundings of the city and ventures into the forests. It’s an environment that’s not always seen, familiar yet alien, and it makes the characters feel more isolated and heightens the sense of danger.

There are many aspects of Ghost House that will feel familiar, especially if you’ve seen a few Asian horror films over the years, and whilst it might not win any awards for originality or innovation, it does execute its story well. The scenes are well shot, and there’s a lot of atmosphere, especially in the scenes in the haunted forests.

Ghost House achieves what it sets out to do, and delivers an engaging and enjoyable horror experience, and the faults that are present can easily be forgiven.

Ghost House is now available on VOD.

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