Ghostly addition to horror tales
Ghost Stories (M, 98 mins) Directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett ★★★1⁄2
With the likes of The Haunting of Hill House available at a flick of your TV remote, it must be challenging to make original horror movies for the big screen. But there is definitely a mini golden-age of horror happening right now. A Quiet Place, Raw, The Babadook, Hereditary and even the recent Halloween relaunch, have all found – and deserved – their audience.
Meanwhile, The Conjuring franchise and its many mokopuna are at least technically very competent, and written with a refreshing awareness of exactly what they were put on this Earth to do. So can a British indie based on a stage play muscle in and make a buck here in Godzone? I hope so because A Ghost Story has plenty to like about it.
The film is a loose trilogy of stories, connected by a sceptical ‘‘paranormal investigator’’ who is out to debunk anything supernatural. But when he is challenged by his ageing mentor – now living alone in a caravan and clearly housing a few possums in his top branches – to find an explanation for three particular cases, our man Phillip (Andy Nyman, who co-directs) has no choice but to get to work.
The first case involves a nightwatchman at a derelict hospital, haunted by a vision of a young woman who may be channelling his own paralysed and comatose daughter.
The second features a young man who is convinced he is cursed after running down a mysterious figure on a country road.
And the third – which stars Martin Freeman – is a grim retelling of a poltergeist and at least one tragic death.
Until this point, Ghost Stories plays as an anthology movie and I was underwhelmed as I waited for the credits to roll. But writers and directors Nyman and Jeremy Dyson have saved the best – an explanation of sorts – for last.
And finally I began to appreciate why Ghost Stories played to packed theatres for more than a year. If you’re still paying attention at about the 80-minute mark, you’re in for a treat.
Ghost Stories isn’t quite on a par with the very best of the recent horror renaissance, but it delivers its share of shivers and jumps with a restrained inventiveness I truly appreciated.
Andy Nyman and Martin Freeman star in Ghost Stories.