The premise of Ghost Game is quite straightforward and is an unusual spin on the age-old story of daring people to enter seemingly haunted houses. 11 contestants enter into a reality television programme that will pay out the highest amount in Thai game-show history (5 million Baht) to the contestant that endures the longest in an apparently haunted torture camp. But as usual, the best laid plans never goes the way it should as they find that the ghosts are far more violent than they had expected.
Mired in controversy when it was first released in Thailand, the films setting closely resembled (by name and representation) Cambodias infamous Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed countless dissidents. The Ghost Game producers built the set in Thailand after requests to use the actually museum were denied. Boycotts were called when it was released, leading to a Cambodian ban on the feature while Thai-Cambodian relations hit an all-time low despite the filmmakers apologies and a disclaimer at the start of the film. Unfortunately, due to these problems, there seems to be a substantial amount of scenes referencing the Khmer people that were edited out, which ended up marring the quality of the final cut quite significantly.
Ghost Game somewhat resembles the 2003 Norwegian scare fest, Villmark which had the same idea of a survival-reality television programme choosing contestants to travel deep into the Norwegian woods, encountering evils both plain and unseen. While that film took time to build on the characters, Ghost Game had no such intentions. Right off the bat, with no back-stories revealed about the contestants, were introduced to them in the midst of travelling to the house of horrors. With 11 contestants excluding the crew of the reality series, thats a whole lot of characters to keep track off, each apparently from disparate walks of life.
Unfortunately, the film does not do so well to keep up with any of them, leading to incomplete and highly confusing sequences of storytelling. Coupled with their frightened cardboard representations that never evolve throughout the film and youve got no reason at all to care about any one of them. Although there seems to be a concerted effort to try to evoke human drama from the desperation of strangers trapped together, la the Saw franchise, it hardly comes off as anything other than petulance. Even when the performers dont really have to do with their undemanding roles, aside from screaming and arguing, their amateurism is quite apparent.
Technically, the Ghost Game could have ended up decent if not for a number of glaring flaws. While the initial suspense started out well with its clever use of handheld shots, it failed to carry over to the rest of the film once the scares got into full swing especially as scenes started to drag on too long with very little pay-offs. The patchy control over the script and lack of creativity seems to have driven a nail into its coffin when it becomes obvious at the end that its helmers chucked in as many scare tactics and ghostly behaviours as possible. Although grasping with issues carrying immense gravitas like the proverbial ghosts of Cambodias horrid past, its quite regrettable that it unintentionally presents itself as a comedy of errors.