From its opening scene, "Ghost House" refuses to ease viewers into terror. Instead, the horror movie quickly establishes how it will keep the audience squirming for 100 minutes. Director Rich Ragsdale doesn't innovate within the genre but does provide enough visual surprises to please fans of supernatural scares.
Once Julie (Scout Taylor-Compton) declares, "This vacation is going to be so amazing," we know that her trip to Thailand with Jim (James Landry Hébert) will be anything but. Shortly after they arrive in Bangkok, Julie is mesmerized by ghost houses: tiny structures meant to ward off spirits from entering the homes of Thai people. Under the guidance of two British tourists, the couple travel to a remote forest to see more, but they soon learn that the otherworldly evil is more than local legend. Helped by their driver Gogo (Michael S. New) and American expat Reno (Mark Boone Junior), they try to escape the curse.
Visually, "Ghost House" makes good use of its setting, offering Instagram-ready images of its location shot by Pierluigi Malavasi. Unfortunately, Thai people are used in ways that rely on cultural stereotypes, a blemish on an otherwise effective and unsettling film.
Running time: 1 hour, 39 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Royal, West L.A.