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Review: Ghost Stories

Image from IFC Midnight's GHOST STORIES

There are certain elements that are necessary for horror movies to work the way they should. After watching enough of them, you’ll probably be able to figure out just what those are if you pay close enough attention. With Ghost Stories, Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson and the rest of the people behind this understand that. That’s why this feature film elevates itself and becomes more than just the average scary movie that’s put out these days.

Like the stage play that he created alongside Dyson, Andy Nyman stars as Phillip Goodman, a professor who exposes and debunks phenomena such as psychic powers, proof of the afterlife, or anyone claiming to have had contact with the supernatural. He’s devoted his an entire life to this and even created a television show to broadcast his findings. He’s remained a complete skeptic to this point, but he’s now being offered a trio of cases that may force him to rethink what he’s believed in for so long.

An important element that any horror film needs is suspense. From the start, Ghost Stories builds that feature up and is able to effectively grab your attention and retain it. Usually, this is something that needs to be done eventually, but it’s even better when you get that early on and are somehow able to make it last.

One way they accomplish this is by having the movie focus on three cases that are split into stories that stand on their own. This way, you’re essentially able to reset what’s being watched since you’re telling a new story each time that happens. This gives a fresh feel to Ghost Stories whenever it needs it. Because of this, there aren’t really too many instances where you can become disinterested.

None of these short stories we get would be as good if they were stretched into feature length anyway. You would have to slow things down and some of what we get in terms of scares and build up would be too repetitive. That’s a key issue that plenty of horror movies have since they’re using the same characters throughout, and there are only so many times you can drum up the expected frights in the same fashion.

To tell the stories in this case, they have different people with distinct attributes who are dealing with their own set of particular dilemmas. And on the rare occasion when they do things that are similar to something we’ve already seen from a previous story, it doesn’t hurt the film. The reason for this is due to what’s being repeated has been altered along with the cases and character we’re asked to follow being new.

The way all of this is handled allows for the film to have the patience it requires to properly execute just about everything it has planned for its viewers. For those of us watching, this is definitely a good thing as it allows us to remain engaged and focused on what’s taking place from start to finish. Add to the fact that it’s a pretty short film, and you have something that’s easy to get into and easy to stay into.

The one thing that I wasn’t too fond of was the twist that we get at an important time of the film. You knew it was coming, but it’s a lot crazier than it needs to be. From my perspective, it ends up removing a tad bit of seriousness of the rest of the movie.

I understand that it’s done this way because it needs to connect certain things that we’re watching. I can’t be too hard on it since that’s the case, but it just doesn’t mesh with most of what we see throughout the other segments of this movie. While the rest of what we see is developed at a measured pace, this portion of Ghost Stories moves a little too fast and hurries when it probably shouldn’t have.

This part doesn’t really take away from everything else that we get from the movie. All of the other positive qualities that this contains easily make up for that one negative criticism that I have. And like any good horror film wants to do, this one offers you some spooky thrills while having the ability to potentially creep you out. Overall, what you get from Ghost Stories is a satisfying cinematic experience.

Rating: No Rating

Directors:
Jeremy Dyson
Andy Nyman

Cast:
Andy Nyman
Paul Whitehouse
Alex Lawther
Martin Freeman

Film Length: 97 minutes

Release Date: April 20, 2018

Distributor: IFC Midnight

  • Score - 7/10
    7/10
7/10
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