Incident in a Ghostland (2018)

I approached “Incident in a Ghostland” with trepidation and weariness, having been previously rattled by director Pascal Lauthier’s punishing “Martyrs” and having an aversion to torture-porn movies in general. However, in the end this turned out to be more digestible than I anticipated: Make no mistake, it’s rough and unpleasant for extended periods of time but at least it’s not as ghoulish as “Martyrs,” and there’s an underlying sense that Lauthier is deconstructing torture porn conventions, like a filmed thesis masquerading as a horror movie. For instance, the misogyny in torture porn is dragged into the forefront here, with Lauthier’s narrative focus concerning itself only on the trauma inflicted on the titular characters and purposely neglecting to humanize the sadistic duo that terrorize them. Ostensibly the movie seems to be about PTSD and dissociation, and it adds an unexpected verisimilitude to the plot. The acting is impressive, with Emilia Jones and Taylor Hickson tearing into their demanding roles with gusto, while French pop star Mylene Farmer makes a strong impression as their warm mother. It’s clear that the movie is written by someone who speaks English as a second language, with several interactions that just sound a little off, but there’s enough interesting thematic material to make it worth a shot for horror fans, especially fans of 2003’s “Haute Tension.”

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

 

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