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Ghoul

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Ghoul TV Poster Image
Brutally violent dystopian horror story explores myth.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Offers political commentary about issues including anti-Muslim bigotry, torture of prisoners, and rise of fascism. Other storylines are rooted in ancient Arabic folklore. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Few are innocent here. Nida Rahim is conflicted by her need to do her duty, the barbaric practices taking place at the prison, and her understanding of the evil presence that is taking over. Major Laxmi is more honest about her brutality than Colonel Dacunha.  

Violence

Graphic, brutally violent scenes show people beaten, electrocuted, subjected to other forms of torture, execution. A stabbing takes place. Lots of blood. Broken, dismembered bodies are visible. Images of people possessed, and a reference to domestic violence. 

Sex

A woman is shown partially undressing and in her bra. 

Language

"Bitch," "bastard," "s--t," "f--k." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Hard liquor consumed. Occasional smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ghoul is an Indian horror series. It features brutal violence ranging from barbaric torture tactics (beating, electrocuting, etc.), killings by gun and knife, as well as being eaten by a ghastly being from the beyond. There's also some cursing, drinking (hard liquor), and on one occasion, a woman removing her shirt to expose her bra. 

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What's the story?

Co-produced by the folks who brought us Get Out, GHOUL is an Indian horror series about an inexperienced military interrogator who discovers that a secret detention center is housing a force from the beyond. It's the near future, and a wave of fascism has taken over the State. When Nida Rahim (Radhika Apte), a Muslim trainee at the National Protection Squad Academy, turns her activist father (S.M. Zaheer) over to the authorities, she is posted to the remote Meghdoot 31 to take part in the interrogation of notorious terrorist Ali Saeed Al Yacoub (Mahesh Balraj). She quickly realizes that there is something unexpectedly supernatural about him, and suspects that dark forces from the beyond are at play. But her immediate superior, Major Laxmi (Ratnabali Bhattacharjee), already suspicious of Nida because of her religion, rejects the idea. Meanwhile, Colonel Dacunha (Manav Kaul) senses that something is wrong, but doesn't know what to make of it.  

Is it any good?

This entertaining series combines political commentary with a horror theme that is rooted in mysticism. The story world creates an eerie, unforgiving sense of malevolence that's partially driven by a suspected ghul (aka ghoul), a type of diabolical flesh-eating spirit that reflects a person's own guilt before destroying her or him. However, also fueling the terror is the dystopian society in which they now live: A totalitarian-driven regime is controlling citizens with fear, brutal torture, and execution in the name of patriotism.  

Ghoul, which was originally intended to be a movie, feels a bit uneven, with some segments focusing more on political commentary and others centering on the more diabolical aspects of the story. Furthermore, while Nida Rahim's inner conflicts about her strong sense of patriotism and her desire to be a part of her Muslim community unfold, the backstories of other main characters are rich with potential, but aren't given the time to be fully fleshed out. Nonetheless, there's an interesting story here, and one that is worth the watch if you are looking for a compelling, truly scary viewing experience. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how myths from different cultures can be used to create contemporary horror film and TV narratives. What kinds of things do some ancient myths talk about that make them scary? 

  • The violence featured in Ghoul is offered within specific contexts. Is showing bloody, horrifying acts necessary to tell the story? Would the series be as scary without it? 

TV details

For kids who love scary stuff

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