|Directed by||Pascal Laugier|
|Written by||Pascal Laugier|
|Music by||Todd Bryanton|
|Edited by||Dev Singh|
Ghostland (also known as Incident in a Ghostland) is a 2018 horror film directed by Pascal Laugier. The film begins with a woman inheriting her late aunt's house and moving in with her daughters. During their first night there a gang of murderers break in, and events change the family's lives forever. Sixteen years later, the now-adult daughters return with their mother to the house.
Ghostland was shown in competition at the Festival international du film fantastique de Gérardmer, where it won three awards, including the Grand Prize.
A woman named Pauline travels with her teenage daughters, Beth and Vera, to their recently deceased aunt Clarissa's secluded home after they inherited it from her will. Stopped at a roadside gas station on the way, Beth reads a newspaper article about a string of home invasions where parents are murdered but daughters are spared. Unbeknownst to the family, they are stalked and followed by someone driving a candy truck and continues following them on their way to their new home.
Shortly after the women settle into the house for the evening, an obese man breaks in and attacks Pauline. After incapacitating Pauline, the Fat Man drags Beth and Vera into the basement by their hair. A strange woman enters the house to observe. When Beth asks what they want, the woman replies "We just wanna play with dolls". After the Fat Man assaults and observes the girls, he takes Vera to another room and rapes her. Pauline recovers and viciously fights the woman in the kitchen. Despite being repeatedly stabbed, Pauline seemingly knocks the woman out. Following Vera's screams, Pauline finds the Fat Man, repeatedly stabs him and saves her daughters. The woman recovers and when she tries to charge at her, Pauline turns to stab her in the throat.
Beth suddenly wakes up from a nightmare of the traumatic event. Sixteen years later, now a successful horror author living in Chicago with her husband and son, Beth appears on a talk show to promote her new novel "Incident in a Ghostland", based on her experience that night. Beth receives a frantic phone call from her sister, who has suffered from delusions since the trauma, begging her to return to the house where she still lives with their mother. When Beth arrives, Pauline explains that Vera remains unable to move on and continues reliving that night over and over. While staying in the house, Beth has strange experiences including hearing a truck, seeing "Help Me" written on a mirror and Vera claiming that their tormentors are still trying to get to them.
Beth finds Vera chained to her bed and made up to look like a doll. Beth becomes locked out of the room. From the other side of the door, Beth hears what sounds like someone attacking her sister. When Vera comes out, she flails as though being attacked by a ghost. Pauline calls an ambulance and tells Beth to not listen to what Vera says before going outside to flag down the ambulance. Vera vanishes and Beth hears the woman from the candy truck's voice says "We broke your sister and now it's your turn", Beth briefly sees the Fat Man. Beth falls asleep waiting for her mother and after waking up, she ends up captured by the Candy Truck Woman.
When Beth recovers, she discovers bruises all over her beaten face. Beth finds Vera (also beaten up), in the basement and angrily blames her for the wounds. Vera implores her sister to accept what really happened and face the truth. At her sister's insistence, Beth finally flashes back to a memory of the Candy Truck Woman having actually killed their mother when they were younger. Beth breaks from her imagined adulthood to realize that the Fat Man and Candy Truck Woman are still holding her and Vera captive as teenagers in aunt Clarissa's home. Vera tells Beth that their tormentors are playing a game and if they take her upstairs, she shouldn't move or cry no matter what the Fat Man does. The Candy Truck Woman dresses up Beth like a doll and leaves her in a room littered with dolls. The Fat Man enters to begin molesting and torturing the dolls. When the Fat Man gets to Beth, she eventually fights back and flees. Beth manages to free her sister and the two of them escape the house with the Candy Truck Woman in pursuit. Beth and Vera make it to a distant road, where two state troopers sees the sisters and stops to help them. The troopers report the incident to dispatch, however, the Candy Truck Woman arrives, guns down both troopers and recaptures the girls.
Beth mentally retreats back to her adulthood fantasy. At a cocktail party, Beth meets H.P. Lovecraft (her idol), who tells Beth that her novel is a masterpiece. Following an encounter with her mother, Beth sees her sister screaming for help on the other side of a door and decides to return to rescue Vera. Back in reality, Beth escapes from the Fat Man after he tries strangling her. Beth initiates a violent fight with the Candy Truck Woman after knocking her off of Vera. The Fat Man charges towards Beth, but another state trooper arrives in time to gun him down. The trooper then holds the Candy Truck Woman at gunpoint, when she rushes at him, the trooper guns her down, killing her.
Beth reunites with her sister and after authorities and ambulances arrive, Beth sees a vision of her mother waving at them from inside of the house as both girls are then taken to the hospital.
- Crystal Reed as Elizabeth "Beth" Keller
- Emilia Jones as Young Beth
- Anastasia Phillips as Vera
- Taylor Hickson as Young Vera
- Mylène Farmer as Pauline
- Rob Archer as Fat Man
- Kevin Power as Candy Truck Woman
- Angela Asher as Candy Truck Woman (voice)
- Adam Hurtig as Beth's Husband
- Denis Cozzi as Beth's Son
- Paul Titley as H.P. Lovecraft
In December 2016, actress Taylor Hickson was facially disfigured while shooting a scene for the film. She was rushed to the hospital and received 70 stitches but was permanently scarred. In March 2018, Hickson sued the film’s production company, Incident Productions, over lost work as a result of the incident. Hickson claimed in the lawsuit that, "in the course of shooting the scene, the director Pascal Laugier, consistently told Hickson to pound harder on the glass with her fists". While filming another take, the lawsuit states:
"The glass shattered, causing [her] head and upper body to fall through the door and shards of glass. As a result of the incident, [she] badly cut the left side of her face."
Hickson, in the lawsuit, states that the company failed to take "any and all reasonable steps to ensure that industry standards and practices were adhered to, including but not limited to the use of safety glass and/or stunt doubles as appropriate."
Ghostland was first shown in competition on 3 February 2018 at the Festival international du film fantastique de Gérardmer. Ghostland won three film awards at the festival including the Grand Prize, Audience Award and the SyFy Award. The SyFy award was chosen by five bloggers at the festival. Frédéric Strauss of Télérama noted that this was the second French co-production in a row that dominated the awards at the festival, with the previous years big winner being Raw by Julia Ducournau. The film received a theatrical release in France on 14 March 2018. In some territories the film was released as Ghostland and in others as Incident in a Ghostland.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 40%, based on 15 reviews with an average rating of 5.5/10. Metacritic gives the film a weighted average score of 44 out of 100, based on 4 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The Hollywood Reporter declared the film to be a "taut — if somewhat corny — slasher flick" and it was "neither for the faint of heart nor the sharp of mind". The review noted the dialogue, finding that "for [the director's] second film in English after 2012’s The Tall Men, he could have brushed up more on his dialogue, which rings awfully flat." Dennis Harvey of Variety declared the Ghostland "all seems slick, intense, and unpleasant in the same hollow way "Martyrs" did, because all the cruelty is so meaningless. Replacing that film’s empty pseudo-mysticism are villains for whom Laugier doesn’t bother providing any motivation or backstory." Simon Abrams of The Village Voice wrote that the film was a "disturbing and effective critique of misogynist torture porn" it "may sometimes play like a mindlessly gory slasher clone, but Laugier’s tormented girls consistently prove to be stronger than their brutalized bodies."
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- Strauss, Frédéric (5 February 2018). "Festival de Gérardmer 2018: l'année des poupées sanglantes (et françaises!)". Télérama (in French). Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Robb, David (6 March 2018). "Actress Taylor Hickson Sues Producers Over Disfiguring Injury". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- Keslassy, Elsa (7 February 2018). "Pascal Laugier's 'Ghostland' Crowned at Gerardmer, Pre-Sells to Key Markets (Exclusive)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- "Palmares 2018" (in French). Festival international du film fantastique de Gérardmer. Archived from the original on 24 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Harvey, Dennis (21 June 2018). "Film Review: 'Incident in a Ghostland'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- "Incident in a Ghostland (Ghostland) (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
- "Incident in a Ghostland Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
- Abrams, Simon (22 June 2018). ""Incident in a Ghostland" Is a Disturbing and Effective Critique of Misogynist Torture Porn". The Village Voice. Retrieved 12 July 2018.