Updated: May 29, 2020
They thought it was their dream home, but when the unseen residents showed up, those dreams went up in flames.
Ryan Connolly (Ballistic) provides a masterclass in satire in this horror comedy, displaying both his in-depth knowledge of horror movie structure as well as comedic staging and timing. From the opening moments underpinned by Daniel James’ ominous score, the long tracking shot towards the titular house instantly telegraphs the terrors that lie in wait for the family moving into their brand-new home.
The introduction to the family is the first direct reveal of the film’s intentions to lampoon horror movie tropes with Dana (Emily Connolly) providing the quintessential disengaged teenager, dumping boxes that don’t go in her room for someone else to deal with. She passes the audience on to Pam (Ballistic’s Hannah Ward) as the high-strung mother asking the obvious questions with the even more obvious answers (“Why did they sell so cheap?”).
The victim family trifecta is completed by Jim (Graham Powell – also appearing in Ballistic) who nails the dad so excited with achieving the “American dream” that he remains utterly oblivious to the ill-omened circumstances that led to them purchasing the house in the first place. Connolly brilliantly stages a fantastic site-gag that underscores the complete lack of awareness of the family without walking headlong into parody.
Technical prowess is also on display with long tracking shots through darkened rooms, illuminated only by shafts of pale blue light creating a sense of genuine unease. Director of Photography Ryan Booth lights and frames each shot with such foreboding, that he is able to make visual threats of innocuous objects like doors or vents. This goes hand in hand with the sound design crafted by Robert Krekel, heightening common noises to unsettling prominence, such as turning creaks into wailing voices and layering ghostly voices into the air.
This mastery of form allows the film to pivot from horror to comedy and back again seamlessly. The presence of comedy, far from relieving tension actually adds to it, as we never know in any given moment if we are building up to jump scare or punchline.
A combination of slick and assured filmmaking and Connolly’s command of structure and style, allows him to craft a film that both plays to expectations and subverts them. Ghost House benefits from solid comedic performances, palpable tension and a very digestible 6-minute run time, combining to make possibly the most relatable horror film that you are likely to see.
Studio: Film Riot | Year: 2016 | Genre: Horror/Comedy | Duration: 6 Mins | Suitability: Mature