Ghost Lab (2021) Cooks Up Mediocre Supernatural Scares
Title: Ghost Lab
First Wide Release: May 26, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Paween Purijitpanya
Writer: Vasudhorn Piyaromna, Paween Purijitpanya
Runtime: 117 Minutes
Starring: Thanapob Leeratanakachorn, Paris Intarakomalyasut, Nuttanicha Dungwattanawanich
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Wee (Thanapob Leeratanakachorn) and Gla (Paris Intarakomalyasut) are doctors at a hospital in the middle of the city. Wee is a no-nonsense type of scientist while Gla has a bizarre fixation on the paranormal determined to prove that ghosts exist after the death of his father. One night when getting snacks from the vending machine the two encounter the ghost of a patient from the burn unit. Shocked by this discovery, the two agree to work together to get solid proof that ghosts are real. Soon enough, they fall down a dangerous path with consequences that reverberate in both of their lives.
Ghost Lab is an endearing yet bloated supernatural horror film with an interesting premise and technical prowess.
A promising start sees the two protagonists study the paranormal in their hospital. With a great setting and affable leads, Ghost Lab gets off to a good start. Leeratanakachorn and Intarakomalyasut have good chemistry and work well in their respective roles. It’s clear that they are playing to type but their stories get twisted in an unexpected yet satisfying way. What starts as the standard scientific research goes wrong story turns into more of a character study of grief and the ways it manifests in the main character. Ghost Lab subverts expectations by changing up the character’s motivations towards the study as it progresses. The team also brings up some interesting points about death and grief, and how our desires change before and after death.
One saving grace of Ghost Lab is its solid effects work. For a lower budget film, it implements some memorable stunts and special effects that add a layer of charm to an otherwise stagnant film. There are plenty of neat camera tricks here and there, particularly one of Wee spun around in the hospital late at night by a ghost that brings a smile to my face and a quickened pulse to my heart.
As much as I enjoyed aspects of the film, it doesn’t quite reach the heights that it could. The production values are there but for some reason the film doesn’t work as a finished product. The flash jump editing, high volume jump-scare fused score, and odd comedy beats can be jarring and irritating after a while. It also carries on for a bit too long. It could have been nice and taut with enough character development at a more reasonable 95-100 minutes. Instead, viewers are treated to an unfocused and over stretched storyline that finally meanders to its point after two hours.
While I understand that the portrayal of science will never be exactly in line with reality for the purposes of entertainment, I do expect some consistency. The “experiment’ that Wee and Gla create is simply unable to be replicated which makes it useless to the world of science. One would think that two bright young minds like these top-of-the-class doctors would be aware of this. Sure, they could be blinded by ambition or driven by the desire to talk to loved ones, but they would still have to think through the setup more rationally.
Adding to these woes, there are some other issues that plague Ghost Lab. Some of the supporting actors aren’t the strongest and make it harder to take the film seriously. Characters are left without little development in favor of the protagonist which leaves them static and uninteresting. The score can be totally inappropriate at times, especially in the beginning.
In the end Ghost Lab doesn’t live up to its hypothesis but still remains a fine addition to the supernatural horror subgenre. Cheesy at times and a bit too sugary sweet, the tonal mishmash does in the film before it gets a chance to really engage. I appreciate the slight deviations from convention and think with a tighter script and more tweaks in the editing room, Ghost Lab could be a rather haunting tale. Ghost Lab isn’t winning any scientific prizes, but it can at least prove to be a perfectly acceptable film to stream on a rainy day.
Overall Score? 5.5/10