First things first. The fourth season of the vastly popular franchise series runs out of steam in no time. Before long I was asking myself if I wanted to spend seven hours of my life watching a bunch of teenagers being taunted and haunted by mean evil spirits with faces that had seen better days.
Ghoul is clearly cool for the bunch of teenagers played by young actors who are famous now in their right, having lived through the battering ram of this serial’s writing skills. These youngsters have clearly seen ‘batter’ days. They look prematurely aged, if not commensurately wise. The writing, subversively clever, ensures that the kids make the same mistakes again and again.
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Given the repetitive pattern of the plot, some youngsters emerge in a better light, strangled as it is by the oppressive darkness than others. Max, for example, played by Sadie Sink, a fiery young girl with rebellious eyes is a better-scripted character than most of the other kids whose limited range of interest is matched by their ability to make their characters seem interesting.
Max has the fourth season’s best body-snatching episode when the mysterious evil force tries to get her to end her life. Bathed in blood-red filters the moment of Max’s combat with mortality had me riveted like nothing else in the series.
The rest of the episodes this season plod along with no hope of relieving the tension in any way except by reliving it. The drama works in a loop, dilating and expanding outwards in sheaths of shallow eeriness. The shock value has long run out of steam, What we get here is more of the same, in a far more dense and brackish brew.
The young actors are almost uniformly stilted in their simulated spontaneity. But it is the senior actors who really get the raw end of the stick. They come across as daft goofy or both. The once-fabulous Winona Ryder plays one of the mothers of the teenagers who take off with one of the fathers to rescue the love of her life from Russian captors in Alaska.
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The rescue operation is silly and illogical, especially at time when the kids back home are going through a kinetic supernatural trauma.
I don’t know how much of the rational component one is supposed to apply to the goings-on. The series is woefully wimpy in execution. Long passages of the narrative try to strike a balance between shivers and giggles, failing to achieve a balance between the two.
I don’t know what stranger things await us in the future. But this time the mood is all muddled and misconstrued. There is a big difference between being strange and being stupid.
Rating: ** (2/5)
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