Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Gregory M. Wilson
What's it about
A trio of kids accidentally unleash an ancient evil when digging to make a fort near Golgotha Cemetery. The whole thing is a metaphor for the worst of small-town life, as abuse from adult characters tends to be every bit as scary as the beast that dwells beneath the cemetery.
Is it good movie?
The main problem with a movie that presents itself as social commentary
is that it needs to take itself seriously enough. The message of
"protect your children" and keeping them safe from abuse tends to get
lost in silly plotting, stereotypical characters and lead young actors
who have characters that are pretty tough to like. The movie seems to
aim for a horror audience, but yet at the same time denies us of any
true horror. Don't focus too heavily on the monster, cause the movie
doesn't really do that either. If you just shake the whole horror
aspect of the movie, you're left with..uhh…a lame TV movie. But hell,
the opening is really cool- it's shot in a comic strip style which
gives us the creepy backstory of the Ghoul himself.
The whole thing comes off like a lame episode of Are you Afraid of the
Dark, the old kids horror show. The abuse angle is not played very
well, as it seems to be hinted at but never directly confronted which
makes things awkward. Timmy Graco (Nolan Gould, often funny in Modern
Family) is a bit of a despicable kid who's parents just sort of glass
over him. He's got a fat friend who is sexually abused, and one last
friend with the "drunk dad who beats the whole family, I wish I could
kill him" deal. The dialogue spoken by these youngsters is just way
off- you have expect them to start sharing old war stories..just so
I guess the problem here is that the scary ghoul that lives beneath the
tunnels and causes horror legends within the town is supposed to anchor
this story and he feels almost completely tacked on. Ghoul actually
feels like it could exist without the monster altogether. Don't expect
a fun-filled horror after school special- if the heavy-handed writing
works on you, expect a "I don't feel so good right now" sort of flick.
Ghoul is all about deep emotional scars, forget the ridiculous looking
monster. You won't be leaving this one feeling great. My experience was
almost the opposite though because the cast just isn't up to snuff, and
their characters are just so poorly written. There's just no range, and
the whole thing is a real miss.
I just can't give this one a pass. It should have been soaked in dread
and balanced its social commentary and horror aspects a little more
intelligently. Why a film so dark, so full of evil looks so bright,
shiny and fresh most of the time is something I may never understand.
The whole movie is just so light. The monster itself is really silly,
the characters are unlikeable, the 80s setting is not set up
particularly well, and..I could just go on. Avoid this.
Video / Audio
Video- 1:78:1 widescreen and looks clean,
sanitized and sharp.
Audio- Dolby 5.1 surround, pretty balanced
and even track.
The only real feature here is a Behind
the Scenes deal that runs about a half an hour and is actually
really well done. You get to see a lot of how the film came together,
from securing sets (shot on the same set as Twilight, ya know) to
actually shooting, including rain delays and monster makeup. Anyway, this is a great and comprehensive little featurette but
unfortunately it can't really help the source material.
Despite being an adaptation of the great Brian Keene's novel, Ghoul is nothing more than a watered down, unbalanced coming of age story that takes bits and pieces of better stories and doesn't improve upon them. I would recommend it solely to parents looking to give their 10 year olds a fright..if you don't mind strong themes of sexual and physical abuse.