Monday, September 4, 2017

Ghost House

There’s just something about a packed cinema theater in the center of town. We’d arrived just after the billed show-time and have settled for front row seats – that's me, and and my eleven-year-old son Louie, who is underage for this 15 rated movie, but what are dads there for if not for smuggling underage kids into theaters to watch adult horror movies? 

GHOST HOUSE begins with a gorgeous shot - tangerine sunset, airplane landing on Bangkok concrete and we know we are in pretty safe hands with director Rich Ragsdale's team.
Julie and Jim are on a romantic holiday in exotic Thailand. They get engaged using somewhat expository dialog, and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. It's a bit clunky but it looks great and sounds good and the story is set up early on. We know that Julie's camera and her curiosity aren't leading anywhere pleasant.  
Julie busies herself with photographing spirit houses (what could go wrong there, then?) when the couple meet two fellow travelers who are out to trick them

Fast forward to a night out in Bangkok's (or was that shot in Pattaya?) and the following morning spells a trip to a spooky forest where an ancient curse is transferred to Julie. She's swiftly possessed by an angry ghost and before long Julie is laid down in Gogo's relative's shack as the local monks try to unsuccessfully dislodge the spirit from her.
Their driver and guide Gogo is played by talented Bangkok actor Michael New who sparks some Thai fun and humor into proceedings. Russell Geoffrey Banks cheekily plays Robert the untrustworthy fellow traveler, and, Mark Boone Jr plays the jaded expat who has some local knowledge. 

There's some sweet red filtered cinematography as the couple seek out Boone Jr in the seedy part of town. As it transpires the jaded expat knows some locals and they discover that the curse is like a ghostly hot potato that must be passed on to another if Julie is to be freed of the spell.

The film plays out predictably but satisfactory with some nice twists towards the end. The jump factor at the cinema was real enough with some screams coming from behind. I particularly enjoyed the circular plot pattern of Gogo meeting new tourists fresh off the plane - thus the horror will continue, 

My only real niggle with the story is that we don't get to understand the antagonist as much as I'd liked to. What makes her tick, what does she want? Will she come back?  

All in all GHOST HOUSE is a pleasant surprise for horror in the region and guess what? No CGI -  just a great film score, locations, excellent supporting cast, nifty make-up, overall a worthwhile cinema experience if horror is your thing.               

Playing at theaters in Bangkok now.