INCIDENT IN A GHOSTLAND (2018)
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Story finds Beth (Emilia Jones), her sister Vera (Taylor Hickson) and their mother, Pauline (Mylène Farmer) moving into a creepy house they’ve inherited. That very night they are attacked by two deranged individuals (Rob Archer and Kevin Power) they encountered earlier on the road driving a candy truck. Vera is raped before mom savagely kills the intruders. The film picks up many years later with adult Beth (Crystal Reed) a wife, mother and now a famous horror author. One day she gets a panicked phone call from the emotionally damaged Vera (Anastasia Phillips), who still lives in the creepy old house with mom. Beth returns to the old home to check up on them and finds out there is still something very wrong going on in that house.
Disturbing flick is written and directed by Pascal Laugier (Martyrs) who certainly knows disturbing. It doesn’t quite reach Martyrs territory, but comes close with it’s brutal beatings and the swollen and bloody faces warn by our leads. It’s extremely effective, especially after we get our midpoint reveal, but also very unpleasant to sit through. It’s a tough film to watch as the sisters are continually abused by these two deranged individuals, dressed up like dolls, shackled and worse. It’s also set in a house that is very unsettling in itself, with it’s dark hallways and rooms filled with creepy toys. The design of the home and it’s furnishings is quite spooky and does give the film atmosphere. As for the sadistic and deranged intruders, they are given no background or motivation, other than Vera giving them the finger, for their attack on the family and we never even get names for them. The one listed in the cast as “Fat Man” (Archer) seems to be a bit of a perverted man-child, while his androgynous partner “The Candy Truck Woman” (Kevin Power) is the only one that talks and only when he/she has something disturbing to say. They work, but it seems to be all senseless brutality without some kind of character depth to give their vile behavior some weight or point.
Cast is small but effective with Crystal Reed giving her Beth a strength despite what she is going through and Anastasia Phillips evoking a lot of sympathy as the emotionally disturbed and abused Vera. As their younger selves, Emilia Jones and Taylor Hickson are also good. Mylène Farmer is solid as their mother, Pauline and is especially effective in the scenes where she protects her young daughters. Not much is known about our intruders, but Rob Archer and Kevin Power make them very effective and frightening.
Overall, much like Martyrs, it’s very effective though extremely unpleasant. It never gets quite as horrific as that movie, but has some brutal moments. The opening scenes are violent and effective and the mid-film reveal is startling, though not unexpected. By the last act, though, we are getting tired and numbed to all the unpleasantness and abuse and thankfully the film is a quick 90 minutes. While a well made film, not one which viewers can say they enjoyed. Also, not something one needs to watch again.
Rated 3 creepy dolls (out of 4).
I agree the two antagonists could have been explained better. I thought that that was the weakest part of the film.
It was interesting when at one point the dolls seemed to be mocking the Fat Man calling him ugly. This indicated that he did have some comprehension and was aware he was a social outcast. But that’s the only hint we ever have about what he really is.