Out Of The Smokeless Fire
The Nightmares Will Begin
Reveal Their Guilt, Eat Their Flesh
After the recent successes of The Exorcist, The Terror and Channel Zero, television has seen a recent resurgence of genuinely unnerving horror that the big screen has failed to deliver. Step forward three part Hindi series Ghoul which takes the basic premise of a monster movie and spins it into an endearing, compelling horror ride. Although the series could have done with an extra episode to flesh the characters out and slow the frenetic pacing down, Ghoul is another excellent horror and one Netflix Original worth checking out.
Set in a dystopian future, Ghoul wastes little time getting to the heart of the story after a brief introduction to the bleak world our characters find themselves in. Patriotic protagonist Nida (Radhika Apte) begins her story by exposing her father’s anti-government activities, proving just how much she’s willing to give to her country. Following this act, she’s inducted as the newest interrogator at a secret, remote detention centre. Once there, things begin to spiral out of control as a new prisoner arrives bringing a strange, uneasy aura that descends on the prison. What transpires from here is an unnerving, psychologically chilling tale that builds toward a climactic, blood soaked battle for survival.
Ghoul does a great job with its atmosphere and throughout the three episodes there’s a constant conscious choice of colour, music and dialogue that all work harmoniously together. Yellows and blue dominate many of the scenes and long, drawn out scenes for some of the more tense moments really help drive home the uneasiness apparent throughout. Of course, it’s incredibly difficult to keep this level of dread-inducing horror going throughout the 2 hour 15 run time but a combination of paranoia and chilling imagery help to give Ghoul the edge without resorting to cheap jump scare tactics.
In many ways Ghoul feels like a mish-mash of famous horror properties in the best possible way. The animalistic mannerisms of the monster strike resemblance to The Descent, the group-paranoia feels like a homage to The Thing and the strong, female archetype battling the creature feels eerily similar to Ripley from Alien. While it would be easy to point fingers and call Ghoul out for mimicking some of the best loved horrors in the past, Ghoul pulls this off effortlessly and originally, weaving a web of blood soaked carnage and genuinely unsettling plot developments along the way. This is made all the better by the open ending that’s sure to leave some rubbing their hands together at the possibility of a follow up but as a stand-alone piece it’s the perfect end to a chilling horror.
All of this great work would be for nothing if the characters were weak or poorly written but thankfully Ghoul shines in this department too. Nida’s (Radhika Apte) character development is surprisingly effective and from her patriotic service to the state through to her defining moments of defiance late on, Ghoul does a great job making this horror a compelling character driven story rather than a simple monster movie. It’s this attention to detail with the script that really helps this one shine with the supporting cast decent in their limited but effective parts. Although the English dub is far from horrible, for maximum affect it is recommended to watch this one in Hindi to really get the best performances from the cast.
Ghoul manages to somehow blend the best elements of classic horror with a dash of dystopian bleakness to create a really impressive horror series. The characters are well written, the pacing frenetically unnerving and all the while Ghoul effortlessly keep its tightly woven cinematography on point throughout the show. With an extra episode to help solidify the characters and revel in the psychological uneasiness, Ghoul could rival this year’s other big television horror The Terror. More importantly though Ghoul keeps the pressure on movie studios proving television, not the big screen, is the place to be when it comes to watching compelling, well written horror.