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‘Ghost Stories’ (review)

Produced by Claire Jones, Robin Gutch
Written and Directed by
Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson

Starring Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse,
Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman

 

Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s Ghost Stories is an effective, creepy film that is also a nice spin on the horror anthology subgenre.

Nyman plays Professor Goodman, a professional skeptic and charlatan debunker who receives a cryptic invitation from his idol (who has been missing for years and presumed dead), a fellow skeptic, to meet and talk.

When the meeting takes place, the idol is prickly and condescending and tells Goodman that his life’s work is shite. The dying man implores him to debunk the three cases he’s been unable to solve to give him peace of mind before he succumbs.

Thus sets up the sorta-kinda anthology aspect of the film as Goodman pursues the stories and the protagonists in order to prove them wrong. We witness Goodman contacting the involved parties and the ensuing reenactments of the events.

One cannot stress enough how important the superb acting contributes to the effectiveness of Ghost Stories.

As sinister and skin-crawling as the filmmaking is, it would be for naught if it weren’t for the committed performances, beginning with Nyman’s.

Impressive because he’s simultaneously repellent and sympathetic, Nyman holds our rooting interest throughout, mainly because, hey, this stuff isn’t really happening, right?

There is an interesting philosophical thread throughout the film, as one character remarks to Goodman, in so many words, that Goodman would be happy to prove there is no afterlife so he would not be held accountable for the transgressions in his life.

The big reveal/twist ending, while interesting, effective and dramatically thorough, didn’t really address the thematic/philosophical underpinnings of the rest of the film. I won’t divulge more, but I sincerely wish the denouement – without tying everything in a bow – would have incorporated those elements into a cohesive whole.

That said, Ghost Stories is a solid scarefest with a few pop-out-of-your-seat moments, that is well worth the time of horror fans.

Ghost Stories is now playing and is also available On Demand.

 

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