Brian Keene’s Ghoul has finally made it's way to film. Keene has always been a favorite horror author of mine, so I am super exited to watch this adaptation of his work. First, a little background about the film: Andrew van den Houten produced this film. His name is notably recognized with many Lucky McKee projects (i.e. The Woman and The Offspring). Van den Houten is known as a very notable producer, and at a personal level, is a producer who has created many of the films I enjoy. So, based on the type of story contained within The Ghoul, van den Houten’s role seems to be a great marriage of content and producer. Ghoul was made by Chiller films and is set to debut April 13th on the Chiller network. However, Killerreviews has been lucky enough to check it out before most of the public!
The context of the film is set around 3 childhood friends (Timmy, Barry, and Doug) who, like most children of a certain age, find peace and quiet from their awful lives in an underground clubhouse. However, as is par for horror films, not all is well with our protagonists and there is a town legend of the “Ghoul” looming over their immediate future. You see, children in this town must be and act “good” or the Ghoul will get them... at least that’s what the parents say.
The group of boy’s friendship, and the audience connection with them, grows stronger throughout the film as they and we discover the home lives amongst these friends. This is by far one of the strongest parts of the story line. The character development is highly important to the story as it sets an uneasy tone about the characters and helps the audience to realize the stark and rough reality for these friends. I will admit that I was worried about the movie, in comparison with the original novel, would softening some of the darker aspects of the children's lives. Rest assured these elements are just as disturbing within both formats.
The main child, Timmy, has the most normal life of all the boys, which isn’t saying very much for the definition of “normalcy” though. Barry’s father is a classic drunk who is ruthlessly violent towards both his wife and child. Doug’s mother has quite an inappropriate relationship with her son- one which I honestly thought would be skimmed over within the film. This, however, is not the case at all. While not much is visually broadcast in the film itself, the movie does a great job of giving just enough, and letting your imagination fill in the gaps that is the horror this child must go through. In all my experience with horror films, watching one scene with Doug and his mother is one of the most uncomfortable scenes I have ever sat through. In fact, this scene is even worse to watch than to read, which rarely happens.
At the beginning of the movie we get a unique set of opening credits which display comic strips explaining the back story to the Ghoul. Not long after we get our first kill, which is a teen boy who is attempting to do what teen-boys do with his girlfriend in the car. You see- the Ghoul quickly punishes sins of the flesh. Within this scene we get some appealingly mild gore shots as the Ghoul takes out the boy by repeatedly stabbing him with his long claws. Nevertheless, my favorite kill would have to be when our killer deals with the 3 little bastards who are trying to destroy our main characters’ fort. Oh, the bullies do find the fort, but it is they who get destroyed, not the fort... definitely a lesson learned for children not to be bullies.
For fans of the original novel, the movie does a respectable job of keeping true to its original story for the most part. The ending, however, does contain its difference from the book; but, I won’t ruin the surprise for you here.
This film made me remember the times of being a kid hanging with my friends and it makes me thankful that the people I grew up with didn't have these kinds of skeletons in their closets. The Ghoul is surprisingly effective at setting an uneasy feeling on these kids’ lives. Interestingly enough though, the Ghoul itself is not really the main focus of the movie- but that is the beauty of the film. The characters’ stories are so strong and tragic that we, as the audience, feel just like the characters themselves- focusing on the daily lives, and wondering what the infamous Ghoul has in store for their/our future.
After watching the movie, I sincerely suggest checking this out when it debuts on Chiller. I know many people don’t have much faith in TV horror, but this is a must watch for any fan of Brian Keene.