July 22, 2015

VOD Review: Ghoul (2015)

Oh, Found Footage, why hast thou forsaken me?

We know that most FF/POV Horror flicks tend to suck, and we know that they aren't going to stop being made any time soon, but for the love of all that is holy, can we at least start trying to make them worthwhile?

The real problem with most FF flicks, aside from the fact that most of them are ridiculously unbelievable, is that they all basically do the same thing, in just about the same way. Some try admirably to be different and put a unique spin on things, but most never manage to be anything but predictable. That's pretty much the story with Ghoul.
Ghoul at least has an interesting premise going for it, in which a group of wannabe documentary filmmakers travel to the Ukraine, to investigate the rumors of mass cannibalism that happened there in the 30's. Aside from the fact that shooting a TV Pilot based on real-life cannibalism is about the dumbest idea that we've ever heard, the Ukraine is a great setting in which to unleash such disturbing subject matter. So, so far, so good.

The crew is lured to a remote farmhouse that was the site of a gruesome murder, with the promise of hearing the actual murderer's tale of death and cannibalism, first-hand. There, they meet a local witch, and decide to have a seance using a Russian Ouija Board carved into an old table, and an upside-down glass. Alright, still with you, I suppose.

During the seance, they make contact with the spirit of Andrei Chikatilo; a prolific Russian Serial Killer who sexually assaulted and murdered more than 50 women and children between 1978-1990. We're not sure what that has to do with cannibalism that happened way back in the 1930's, or with Boris, the cannibalistic murderer who they're there to interview about his crimes, but hey, the dude was terrifying in life, so he has to be even more terrifying as a malicious spirit, right?


The ghost of Chikatilo tells them they can't leave the farmhouse (something that the witch reaffirms over, and over, and over again), and that he wants them to eat each other, or some such shit. When you find out that one of the girls on the film crew is pregnant, then you can pretty much guess where the movie is going to go from there: Nowhere good.

Ghoul is actually a well-made movie that boasts a fantastic location which makes for the perfect setting for this kind of Horror flick. Early on, Ghoul is also a fairly creepy movie that builds up a decent amount of tension, even if that tension doesn't last all that long. The cast is surprisingly good in this one too, all of them bringing a natural feel to things. Of course, some of them turn out to be stereotypical Horror movie tools, but that's par for the course.

Ghoul's biggest problem was that it tried to do too much. It complicated things by complicating things, if that makes any sense. Was it about cannibalism, Serial Killers, ghosts, or Demonic possession? Yes! It's about all of those things, but not enough about any of them to make for a very coherent story.

The movie worked well enough until Chikatilo was brought in the story, where everything takes a turn for the mundane. The spirit of Chikatilo really serves no purpose here other than to bring some name recognition to the story, and I suppose, give us something even greater to to fear. When Chikatilo's evil plan is revealed though, it only serves to make things even more lame. This movie went from promising, to Genre Trope City, in a short time.

To its credit, Ghoul actually built up a little bit if steam heading into its ending, but all of that quickly went away when we were treated to another shaky-cam trip through some winding corridors, only to find a "shocking" fate waiting for our characters at their end... and of course everything ends in an abrupt jump scare, and then the camera cuts to black.

Sound familiar? Well that's because 498 other Found Footage movies have ended in just about the same way.

Ghoul is a decent enough movie that buckled under the weight of its own mechanics. Maybe at this point we're just burned out on Found Footage movies, and their overly-familiar tricks and tropes, but as the movie wore on it became less and less enjoyable, and got to the point where it was obvious how it was going to end.

At this point, I think we're far too jaded to be objective about a Found Footage flick like this, especially when it feels like every other one we've ever watched. Sorry, Ghoul, at last you had us going for a while.

You might like it though. You never know.


Ghoul is available now on DVD and VOD.

If nothing else, Jennifer Armour was the bright spot in this movie.


  1. Guys--thanks for this. There have been a few good ff movies over the past couple years (As Above, The Pyramid, Afflicted).

    But my issue with found footage is this: more badness. When an FF is NOT good, it's far worse because it's FF. Worse camera angles, more obscure and annoyingly hidden monsters, the main characters are shameless exploitative filmmakers, and I'm annoyed by them and their shoddy camerawork and uselessness. Unlike hapless tourists, you might think the documentarians are well-researched and very clued in to what is going on, but often they are just sitting there, watching the footage themselves and wondering "Why?"--just like the audience.

    All this, and then we are forced to watch obscure, dark, sometimes digitally blurred, and always incredibly shaky footage for the last 10 minutes of the picture, followed by the inevitable jump scare that closes the pictures.

    The inevitable sigh that follows a viewing like this is a mixture of relief and disgust. Uggghhhgh...

  2. I agree with Mob Legend above. FF needs to learn the lesson of "Shit or get off the pot." Either drop the camera when you're running away or don't have one with you in the first place. The continuous excuse of using it as the only source of light is getting old.