Ghost House tells the story of Julie and Jim, a young American couple taking a vacation in Bangkok. They learn about several local customs including the use of ghost houses. They look kind of like ornately decorated dollhouses and are an offering to spirits; basically, they haunt the tiny house so they don’t haunt the actual house and everybody wins. The vacation is going great until Julie is duped into disturbing a ghost house and is attacked by a legendary vengeful spirit that plans to slowly eat her soul. So yeah, losing your luggage on vacation doesn’t sound like that big of a deal anymore does it?
Asian cultures handle ghosts and spirits so much differently than western cultures do. The main difference is that most of their ghosts are both terrifying and lethal whereas many of ours in the west are just tourist attractions at this point. I’ve always really dug the aesthetic in movies like The Ring and The Grudge but after the first films of those franchises I kind of lost interest. After watching Ghost House, I have an urge to go check out a bunch of the Asian horror stuff that I’ve been overlooking for so long. From my limited exposure to these films and the cultures in which they’re set I have come to believe that the waterways in all of Asia are made completely of ghosts. Since there’s no way to filter them out of the water all of the bathrooms are haunted. A full bathtub is pretty much a big ol’ bucket of ghost and that, friends, is fucking scary.
Okay, enough rambling. Onto the movie. This movie slaps you in the face with ghost fuckery before the story even starts; it pretty much tells you, “Okay, this is what you’re in for. Strap in and get ready.” It doesn’t take long for the plot to go from happy vacation fun time to ancient Japanese vengeful spirit possession and there are a couple of really great twists along the way. I can’t really find anything about this movie that I didn’t like; the effects are great and the scares are spot on but where this movie really shines is the characters.
There aren’t any human heroes or villains in this one even the human antagonists are just dudes doing what they had to do to help someone else. Jim, the protagonist is no hero. In fact, there is a pivotal moment where his lack of being heroic gets a couple of people killed. He’s not a big ol’ pussy or anything, just a normal dude in a really fucked up situation. The side characters Gogo and Reno are endlessly entertaining and fairly interesting.
This was a really enjoyable movie. One thing I really like is that it plays with the idea that things like spirits and the magic to fight them are still cling to the areas where the people still believe so firmly in them. As Americans, we’ve pretty much pushed the spirit world out of our culture except for in very specific aspects and only when they suit us and that explains why all of our lakes and rivers aren’t comprised wholly of ghosts. The real message behind this film is that if you find yourself in Bangkok, stick to the ladyboys and stay the fuck away from ghost houses. Ghost House is available now on Netflix. Go watch it, you won’t regret it.