When I first saw the trailer for Incident in a Ghost Land (also known as Ghostland) I thought this was going to be the thirteen in a dozen ghost story (yawn…).
Upon doing some research, I discovered however that the movie was written and directed by Pascal Laugier, who also wrote and directed Martyrs (2008). At that point, I was already excited, since Martyrs isn’t only one of my favourite motion pictures ever, but I do consider it objectively one of the best horror movies ever made!
Obviously, when you’re as hyped for a movie as a kid in a candy shop, said movie can be a let-down.
Well, that’s not the case with Incident in a Ghost Land, because this film is unbelievably fantastic! I loved it from the second it started to the very last frame, I was enthralled like rarely before, I was riveted by coming across one of the best horror films I’ve seen lately.
That’s really all you need to know (even though I’m going to write an Incident in a Ghost Land – EXPLAINED in a few days). Just leave this post now and stop whatever you’re doing: go watch the film!
Are you still here? Then I guess you really want to know what’s so great about the latest Pascal Laugier’s work.
First of all, I suggest you go into the movie blind: therefore, I’m not going to delve into the story too much. In short, we follow Pauline (Mylene Farmer) a mother of two (Beth and Vera) who inherits a home from her aunt. On the first night in the new home, she is confronted with murderous intruders and fights for her daughters’ lives.
A few minutes into the film, Incident in a Ghost Land shows how physically and psychologically brutal it is. The runtime of only 91 minutes is filled, from beginning to end, by intense, gut-wrenching, depressing and disturbing scenes and ideas. Ghostland is not just a film: it’s an endurance test that the viewer must embark on as much as the characters involved. This is a restless and relentless experience that has no filler whatsoever and, other than a 14-second-long very subtle exposition scene, no breaks. As my friend Jimmy, who I collaborated with before, said: “there is no dilly dally shilly-shally filler bullshit here”.
Incident in a Ghost Land is, very much like Mother! (in a certain way), a goosebumps-inducing nightmare that haunts you long after you experienced it. The outstanding camera-work, which makes single-take scenes hectic and frenetic, will most likely leave you breathless, to the point that, when the end credits start rolling, you’ll feel like you’re catching some air for the first time in the last hour and a half.
Technically speaking, this film is nearly a masterpiece. Besides one nit-pick I have for what concerns the sound design, every other technical aspect in the movie is flawless: there are no continuity errors, not a single transition is edited sloppily, not one scene isn’t cared for in the fullest detail.
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And the story! Very much like Martyrs, the plot of Incident in a Ghost Land is original, completely fresh and new. Besides that, the events are executed and presented in a perfect way, making the story all the more gripping and compelling.
Also, you guys know how I rarely speak about the scare factor in a horror film, right? That’s due to two main reasons: firstly, what one finds scary is utterly subjective, thus I can’t assume that what’s frightening for me isn’t going to be laughable for others and vice versa. Secondly, out of 1.043 horror movies I watched in my life (yes, I have an ongoing list…), I got scared by… six! Well, I’d say seven now.
Incident in a Ghost Land is one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had watching a horror film, no jokes. It’s not just the story to be spooky, nor only the way it’s presented: the implications and the genuine approach to the subject matter are truly, deeply and long-lastingly terrifying.
Needless to say, all of that is achieved due to the mesmerising performances. Every single cast members, including the underage actresses, brought their A-game to the project. Everybody’s on the same page here and it shows: the performances, as well as the story, flow naturally providing the overall cinematic experience with a genuine tone that’s hard to achieve.
Add to all that a deeper meaning than meets the eye and you’d probably have the best (maybe the second best) horror motion picture of the last four years!
Although I have two very minor issues with Incident in a Ghost Land, I will not downgrade the movie for them… it’d just be senseless and stupid. Before I give my final grade, I want to personally thank Pascal Laugier: Martyrs, The Tall Man and now Incident in a Ghost Land are among the reasons why I love horror, among the reasons why, for every dumb PG-13 cash-grab made by people as smart as a sack of bricks, there are gems that will inspire writers, directors, filmmakers, fans and producers to demand and do better.
Incident in a Ghost Land 10+/10
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My review is also available on IMDb – Incident in a Ghostland