Plot: An usual murder has drawn the attention of homicide detective Chris (Tom Meeten), who is an odd person to be sure, but seems to have a special sense when it comes to strange cases. A double murder has taken place and the crime seems to have some unusual elements, so Chris is called in and he is to go undercover as a mental health patient. This is because potential links to a psychotherapist are tied in with the murder victims, so Chris goes in deep. Already a somewhat tormented soul, Chris is soon drawn into complex mental scenarios, as he interacts with the therapist and some other patients. The undercover role can be a stressful one, playing two sides of yourself, to the point that lines can start to disappear, or at the least blur. When a break in the case opens a pandora’s box of new, but equally unsettling information, Chris is sucked even deeper into this uneasy world. As he begins to question even himself, is Chris just in over his head or are things much different than he assumes?
Entertainment Value: The Ghoul is a tense, dark thriller that wants to pry open your brain and replace it with cotton balls. While not a horror movie per se, it is a dark ride that has an unsettling atmosphere right from the start. I do love a good (or even bad) mind fuck movie, so I appreciated The Ghoul’s ambition. The pace is slow, but I never felt like it was overly so, just deliberate and focused on the narrative. This one is driven by mood, tension, and atmosphere, so to rush it would have dampened those elements and so I think the pace is right on the mark. Slow enough to reel you in and get across what needs to be conveyed, but fluid enough to keep you hooked, even in the film’s slow burn moments. Tom Meeten has the lead and gives a terrific performance, really letting us feel this spiral his character descends into. He is given a lot to carry in The Ghoul, but he is consistent and shoulders it well. The rest of the cast is fine as well, but Meeten is the star here, without question. I also loved the film’s dark, bleak visuals, especially during the finale sequences. In the end, The Ghoul is an effective, well crafted thriller and anyone interested in the genre should give it a chance.
No nakedness. In this one, your brain is being given the business, not the characters in the movie itself. No blood either, but there’s not really a place for it, so the absence is never an issue. This is an atmosphere driven thriller, so it relies on visuals and mood over gore and sleaze. Now you know I love those two elements, but in this case, they’d have been out of place. The dialogue is well written and performed, but just rarely has the wild punch we appreciate here. So don’t take the low score as a knock on the writing, as that isn’t the case. A few choice wild lines do pop up however, so a point for those memorable moments. This is a crazy one to be sure, but in a more subtle, gaslight type way, not the off the rails insanity we usually focus on. Even so, Chris’ descent into the abyss is unsettling and effective, without question. So a few points for this dark, unnerving experience, I think is fair.
Overall Insanity: 4/10