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Film / Ghostland

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Ghostland (also known as Incident in a Ghost Land) is a French-Canadian horror film by Pascal Laugier (who also did The Tall Man and Martyrs) released in 2018 and starring Crystal Reed, Emilia Jones, Anastasia Phillips, Taylor Hickson and Mylene Farmer.

The film is about a family of three, two sisters Beth (Emilia Jones young and Crystal Reed as an adult) an aspiring horror writer and fan of H. P. Lovecraft and Vera (Taylor Hickson young and Anastasia Phillips as an adult), and their mother Pauline (Mylene Farmer) who inherited an old house from her sister.

As they move in to this new home, they are attacked by two men who proceed to torture them. Pauline manages to kill the two men, but all three of them are left deeply traumatized, especially Vera who was raped by one of the men.

16 years later, Beth now a successful horror novel author living in Chicago gets a call from Vera who suffers from hallucinations and begs her to come back. Returning to the house Beth is confronted to the insanity of her sister and the weird things happening in the domain.

Tropes include:

  • Bad Humor Truck: The two killers drive around in one.
  • Bald of Evil: The Candy Truck Woman is revealed to be this underneath their wig.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Three of them.
    • Pauline attacks the Candy Truck Woman while they're making their way towards Beth. Also a Senseless Sacrifice, as she was killed while Beth tries to run and save Vera.
    • One from the Creepy Doll in the Chinese puzzle box that springs out from behind the mirror just as it looks like Beth is about to die at the hands of the Fat Man.
    • Turns out the cops' deaths weren't in vain earlier, and another cop responding to their call finds the house, shooting both the Fat Man and the Candy Truck Woman dead, saving the two sisters.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Beth manages to reclaim her sanity and escapes with her sister and their kidnappers are killed by police. Unfortunately, their mother has been killed by the kidnappers.
  • Break the Cutie: Oh, so, so, so, MUCH. It's actually the killers' main goal.
  • The Cameo: By H. P. Lovecraft, no less!
  • Chekhov's Gun: Two of them:
    • An article that Beth picked at the gas station reads that the killers first kills the parents. After The Reveal, this information is more than justified.
    • Vera mentions when she is talking to her mother in private, that Beth recorded herself being interviewed (not pretending, like if she really was being interviewed), showing she can perfectly bury herself in fantasy. Knowing that, plus the fact that she possesses a great deal of imagination, foreshadows the revelation that the start of the second part of the movie is all in her head.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Played for scares, one of the two killer is this trope and is deeply disturbing.
  • Creepy Doll: They are all over the place. The crossdressing killer also likes to turn his victims into this, for his partner to play with. Ironically enough the partner in question is afraid of talking dolls.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Candy Truck Woman sobs after the Fat Man is shot dead.
  • Facial Horror:
    • The sisters are beaten up very badly.
    • The Fat Man has a possible cleft palate that exposes his teeth.
  • Fan Disservice: A grown-up Vera is shown naked, her breasts and butt exposed, and she's covered in bruises and scars and is constantly screaming and crying.
  • Freudian Excuse: The voices of the dolls that the Fat Man hears in his head taunt him about how he's ugly and that nobody will ever love him, suggesting that he suffered a highly abusive childhood that mentally broke him.
  • For the Evulz: The villains have no real motivation beyond "playing with dolls". While the Fat Man is somewhat understandable in that he's clearly mentally disturbed from childhood trauma, there's no explaining what the Candy Truck Woman gets out of it or what her connection to the Fat Man is.
  • Genre Shift: The movie starts off as slasher/home invasion movie but quickly change to become a supernatural horror film, only to shift back to home invasion some time after the second act.
  • Hope Spot: The two girls escape from the house and manage to flag down a police car only to have the two police officers shot by the Candy Truck Woman. Fortunately, one of the cops was able to call for backup which results in the later deaths of the killers.
  • Lecherous Licking: The Fat Man does this to Vera.
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison to Martyrs. The film is still very dark but at the same time it's a lot less violent and nihilistic and more hopeful.
  • Living Doll Collector: The Fat Man's modus operandi is to "play" with his victims who are dressed up as dolls.
  • Mind Rape: "We broke your sister. Now it's your turn".
  • No Name Given: The two killers are never named in the film and are only identified as 'Fat Man' and 'Candy Truck Woman' in the credits.
  • Perverted Sniffing: The Fat Man sniffs the crotches of the girls.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: The Fat Man has the mind of a child and is obsessed with dolls.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: While it's heavily implied no rape is actually shown.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: What happens to Vera. Only not really, Beth imagines that.
  • The Reveal: There are no ghosts and Vera is not crazy, Beth is. The hallucinations/strange things that Beth perceives when returning to the house are the only real things happening. Her life as a writer is just a fantasy, as are her kid and husband, she never left the house. 16 years have not passed, only a few days at best. Pauline was killed during the attack, and the killers are not dead. They have imprisoned the girls in the house and come back every night to torture/rape them since.
  • Serial Killer: Two of them. They invade homes, kill the parents, and torture/rape the two girls.
  • Slashed Throat: How Pauline was killed.
  • Uncanny Valley: The actor playing H. P. Lovecraft clearly had a lot of prosthetics applied, to almost unsettling effect. Considering he's a product of Beth's fractured psyche, it's likely deliberate as a means of indicating just how artificial her fantasy world is.
  • The Unfavorite: Vera, to Pauline, who only shows affection towards Beth. Though she does actually try to make an effort to reach Vera before the Candy Truck Woman does.

Alternative Title(s): Incident In A Ghost Land