Reviews 'BRIAN KEENE'S GHOUL'
Three best friends are homebound and ready to spend summer vacation in a
cool new, secret underground fort they've dug at the local cemetery. Each of
these kids carries a heavy burden. One is being molested, the other beaten -
and Timmy (played by Nolan Gould of Modern Family) just lost his grandfather
to a heart attack. And as bad as that all is, its about to get a hell of a
That’s the skeleton to Brian Keene's Ghoul, the latest book adaptation by
Moderncine (Offspring, The Woman) and more specifically a lot of the team
that brought you The Girl Next Door. Directed by Greg Wilson and penned for
the screen by William M. Miller, it was specially crafted for a cable horror
run on the Chiller network – and will be making its debut there on April 13,
If you're not familiar with the bulk of Brian Keene's novel, this is a
story about kids. Make no mistake - you'll spend 90% of your time with kids,
and if The Girl Next Door made you think of Stand By Me, this will even
more. But the subject matter here is adult. Very adult, and domestically
black. Timmy is grieving after losing a grandfather who was very close to
him. Doug (Jacob Bila) has to fight off his drunken mother at night, and
admits to his best friend that his she molests him on a regular basis. Barry
(Trevor Harker) must deal with the beatings dished out to him and his
mother, from an angry, drunken and abusive father, Clark, who also runs the
Those who have read the novel know that there is a story behind Clark's
unrest and inner torment - and this is where Brian Keene's Ghoul and Greg
Wilson's Ghoul will branch off in different directions. While the bulk of
the plot from start to finish is about the same, it would be inaccurate to
label this a "strict" adaptation, as certain elements and fluids have been
changed. I will leave it for faithful to decide if this is good or not, but
if nothing else, it gives fans of the novel a new mysterious direction to
look forward to.
To give any more away would rob this movie of the tale is stands to tell,
and Ghoul has a lot to say. Aside from the fact that "the ghoul" ties this
story together and gives this feature its adhesion, it could almost exist
without it - as the bulk of Ghoul is a coming-of-age horror story infected
deeply by the domestic hells these young characters are dealing with.
Sometimes it feels a bit heavy on the After School Special material, but put
within the context of what this is - a made-for-TV movie - it has an
unusually rich plot and very deep, well-played characters to build upon.
Everyone involved on the acting side, especially Barry Corbin (No Country
For Old Men) as Timmy's grandfather, make an otherwise over-dysfunctional
drama work. The overall ghoul violence is few and far between, but when it
goes down, FX artist Anthony Pepe delivers some respectably inferred
violence and gore for what could be allowed.
As so often explored by Moderncine creations such as The Girl Net Door,
Offspring, or The Woman - what worse beast is there, than man? Genre
crawlers looking to see a corpse eating beast or rape scenes in the tunnels
beneath the graveyard should take note - this is not a hard-R film. This is
an above-par PG style production from top to bottom - and it raises the bar
for what should be expected from the cable-destined horror-feature scene,
whose reputation SyFy has smeared with piss poor, Asylum-like productions.
With children engaging problems that would traumatize adults, and an
acoustically driven soundtrack by Sean Spillane, Ghoul feels very much like
a less offensive version of something between The Woman and The Girl Next
Door. Brian Keene's Ghoul may not be the visceral Ketchum-type pummeling
some have come to expect from a Moderncine production, but it stands among
them no less their sibling as it furthers their ever widening reputation for
premium adaptations from the horror section of your local book store.
Score: 7 / 10