Review by Sean Boelman
For some reason, it seems like a lot of white people have felt the need to jump aboard the train of socially-conscious horror, and the results rarely pay off. Thankfully Ghosts of the Ozarks isn’t an especially harmful film, but it’s not an impactful one either, with a derivative and forgettable story that mimics better movies from the past.
The film follows a young doctor who, after being summoned to a remote town in the Ozarks, discovers that the utopia may have some darker secrets, including a supernatural presence terrorizing the residents from outside. It’s like any other movie about an outsider coming to an idyllic community and exposing them to the truth of the world.
One of the film’s biggest flaws is its pacing. There’s really no significant suspense to be built up, and when the movie does reach its climax, it is so late in the script that the entire third act has to be rushed into about fifteen minutes. The film never earns its big reveal, and as a result, it feels quite underwhelming.
There are a lot of interesting questions in the movie about how governments control their citizens, but it is the same type of theme that has been explored by other films with similar premises in the past. And the movie attempts to discuss some issues involving race, but it really struggles to approach them with any real depth.
The character development in the film is also lackluster. Making the protagonist a doctor does immediately connect the audience with him, as we initially see him as a good man whose purpose is to help others, but the movie really banks off of that goodwill. He’s got such a thin backstory that he almost falls into mysterious drifter territory, which is a completely different archetype than this film should have.
That said, Thomas Hobson does a passable job in the lead role, bringing enough charisma to the character for it to work. And the movie features a supporting cast of well-liked B-listers, including Tim Blake Nelson and David Arquette, who give very showy but enjoyable performances.
The area in which the film shows the most potential is the execution. Glass and Long show a decent set of skills behind the camera, using color and production design to create an atmosphere that is wonderfully creepy. It’s a shame that this is put to waste by a script that is exceedingly dull.
Although Ghosts of the Ozarks has some decent elements in terms of its filmmaking, the writing is just insurmountably generic. It’s just another B-movie horror picture, which is made worse by the fact that this clearly wants to be more.
Ghosts of the Ozarks is now in theaters and on VOD.