Panic Fest 2024 Spoiler-Free Review: “Ghost Game” (2024)

April 12, 2024

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Director Jill Gevargizian’s sophomore feature Ghost Game is an effective offering that uses home invasion in a unique way and serves up some intriguing surprises. 

Vinny (Zaen Haidar) discovers some disturbing footage on his girlfriend Laura’s (Kia Dorsey) laptop — without her permission — in which she and a man named Adrian (Sam Likowski) botch a home invasion and injure a woman. Laura explains that it is a sort of filmed challenge called Ghost Game, in which the participants live in houses without being detected by homeowners — phrogging, as it is called — and prank them, leading the residents to believe that the supernatural is involved. And it just might be, as Vinny insists that Laura get rid of Adrian and take him with her instead to her next assignment: a long-abandoned, reputedly haunted house in which a family has just moved in. 

The stage for real ghostly occurrences is soon set, as young daughter Samantha (Vienna Maas), who is on the spectrum, sees something unusual that her mother Meg (Emily Bennett) and alcoholic, failing-writer stepfather Pete  (Michael C. Williams) do not. There’s more to the set-up, but I’ll leave that for future viewers to discover themselves. This being a horror movie, naturally things do not go to plan for amateur Ghost Game participant Vinny and his more seasoned girlfriend Laura, and the family has its share of problems, as well. 

Although Ghost Game, scripted by Adam Cesare, has a fair share of tropes (the Pete character alone, for example, and a creepy caretaker [Aidan Hughes], for another), it does also boast some nice plays on those tropes and some solid twists. Gevargizian is well versed in bringing first-rate helming to fear fare, as evidenced by her 2020 debut feature The Stylist and her many short films before that. She does another super job with direction here, building mystery and tension from the opening sequence. The cast members all turn in fine performances, and the protagonists may have their negative aspects, but they also have redeeming qualities that keep viewers rooting for them as things go horribly south. 

Ghost Game screened as part of Panic Fest 2024, which ran April 4–10 in Kansas City, MO. For more information, visit

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