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Review: Rich Ragsdale’s Ghost House

To be honest, the only reason I kept a close eye on Ghost House was the inclusion of Scout Taylor-Compton. She’s low key one of my favorite scream queens. After growing out of the wholesome child star phase of her career, Scout nabbed a number of big horror roles in films such as Wicked Little Things, the April Fools Day remake, Beyonce’s Obsessed and straight-to-DVD hits Life Blood, 247 Degrees Fahrenheit and Flight 7500. Of course, she’s most known for playing Laurie Strode in Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes. Though she’s remained busy in the industry by playing Lita Ford in The Runaways biopic and recurring on “Nashville,” Ghost House is her first return to the horror genre in several years. I had my reservations about this new movie because finding out information about it was like pulling teeth; I literally had to look for Instagram snaps for any clues. I was worried that Ghost House was going to be an absolute disaster, but as a fan of Scout, I had to wade through these waters to see what the movie had to offer.

And you know what? Ghost House was actually a surprisingly good time and I think it’s such a waste that it’s getting dumped straight-to-DVD. It’s certainly deserving of at least a limited theatrical release, though it did get one in Thailand and Turkey. LIONSGATE is a pretty reputable and noteworthy distributor, but I still can’t help but feel like Ghost House is a tremendous missed opportunity. It has the same atmosphere and cinematic style of Chernobyl Diaries and The Remaining and I believe, if marketed correctly, it could’ve done well in theaters. It starts with an opening chase and death scene, an effective hook that most horror films are lacking these days. From there, it becomes a dramatic tourist adventure shared by a young couple while incorporating the mythology of the ghost house – a miniature wooden estate that locals belief keep the souls of the dead from bothering the living. If this is rooted in reality, it’s a cool concept. The dynamic of the story changes further, dancing between a haunting tale and a possession experience. There’s a lot going on, but it’s a cohesive piece.

As expected, the trip between the young lovers goes south rather quickly and for a variety of reasons even before the haunting begins. True to the stereotype, Americans aren’t always respectful of other peoples’ cultures and disrespecting and stealing from a ghost house is probably a bad idea. The haunting begins simply, especially by supernatural standards. Apparitions, loud noises, illness, manifestations on camera, doors moving on their own, but suddenly the title Ghost House takes on a new meaning and the young woman, Julie (Compton), finds herself in the grasp of a malevolent entity that wants to consume her soul. Imagine those postcards to home. All of this sounds well and good, but Ghost House is light on the ghost and possession elements until the very end. So, as a viewer, you’re left marveling at the scenery and beautiful locations used in the movie while enjoying dramatic performances from the cast comprised of James Landry Herbert (Super 8), Mark Boone Junior (“Sons of Anarchy”), Russell Geoffrey Banks, Richard Gray, Elana Krausz, Kevin Ragsdale, Wenchu Yang and Michael New. This is a high caliber production indeed!

This also means that Ghost House burns out midway through the movie and is somewhat unsuccessful with regaining its pace by the final confrontation. The viewer, and I’m in this group, will be looking for more otherworldly scares that Ghost House just doesn’t deliver on. Being that this is a horror film, you need more than extremely talented actors, a great concept not explored in the genre yet, and fantastic production values. Being that I certify this one as ‘good enough for theaters,’ I think a jump scare or two and a bloody death would’ve been enough to keep the average viewer entertained in a generation that wants instant gratification and shock-and-awe tactics. Give a little more without going crazy. Director Rich Ragsdale, known for 2015’s Curse of El Charro, and writers Kevin O’Sullivan and Jason Chase Tyrell pulled off a creepy and suspenseful adventure with an original and invigorating phantom. The only flaw here is pacing. Ghost House was produced by Rich Ragsdale, Kevin Ragsdale and Veronica Radaelli with executive producers Kulthep Narula, Rachvin Narula, Daemon Hillin, Luke Daniels and Brandon Hogan. Cinematographer was handled by Pierluigi Malavasi with editor Jay Gartland.

Ghost House is available on Amazon Instant Video, that’s where I saw it, for just $5.00. I’d say check it out this Halloween season. It’s certainly worth the price of purchase. Final Score: 6.75 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)