Original Title: Ghost Stories
Country: United Kingdom
Director: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Hello, there! I’m dos Santos, welcome to Ulven Reviews. Where you’ll find reviews of movies and series from all over the world and from all eras.
Today’s film is the British Ghost Stories released in 2017 and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. A skeptical, who debunks fake con-men psychics, is given three cases that could change his views about the supernatural world.
Not to be confused with A Ghost Story, also from 2017.
After a very strict childhood, Professor Phillip Goodman (played by Andy Nyman) becomes a lonely man who debunks psychics who prey on vulnerable people. A beginning slightly resemblant of 2012’s Red Lights with Robert DeNiro and Cillian Murphy.
He began with this practice after watching the work of Charles Cameron (played by Leonard Byrne) in the ’70s. Goodman turned his admiration of this man into his own work, becoming quite good at it.
One day, Goodman receives in his mail a package containing a cassette with the voice of his supposedly dead idol, Charles Cameron, setting up a meeting with him. Of course, he decides to meet his long time reference.
In a little trailer by the coast, the rude old man gives Goodman three files. Cameron himself couldn’t solve any of these cases, that changed his mind about the existence of the supernatural.
The investigation begins with the case of Tony Matthews (played by Paul Whitehouse). He used to work as a watchman in an abandoned asylum and experienced things that he could not explain.
The second case is with Simon Rifkind (played by Alex Lawther), a teenager full of pictures on the walls of his room, all related to demons, satanism, and things of this sort. One night he went out with his father’s car and encountered a bizarre creature in the forest.
The last one is the case of Mike Priddle (played by Martin Freeman). He tells Goodman about when he was haunted by a poltergeist during his wife’s pregnancy and how things got even worse right before the birth of their first child.
As I mentioned before, the beginning resembles Red Lights, but the rest differs from it. By far, the most compelling part of the movie is when Goodman is interviewing and analyzing the cases. Each one is unique, bringing different elements of the horror genre to the table.
When approaching the ending of the film, things start to get a little crazy, but still a compelling plot that makes you invested. However, the conclusion is awful, overused, and highly disappointing.
The film’s theme is a fantastic mix of terror with psychological undertones. The suspense is really well-crafted, always leaving the ambiguity about the cases, never rushing to give us concrete answers. There are also some moments of efficient comic relief throughout.
The combo of direction and acting is exceptional. A decent example of it, is the scene with Simon in the car, afraid to face the creature he encountered. A similar scene is present in the extraordinary Hereditary, from 2018.
Another demonstration of superb acting is the genuine terror in Tony’s eyes when he has the supposed supernatural experience and also while telling his story to Goodman. I don’t recall any other work of Paul Whitehouse, but this one really impressed me.
Martin Freeman is one of my favorite actors of our time, and as usual, he doesn’t disappoint at all in Ghost Stories. In the role of Mike, Freeman shows how good and versatile he is, in the many phases of the character.
Andy Nyman, in the role of the protagonist, Professor Phillip Goodman, is also incredible, especially considering he’s also the co-director and co-writer of the film.
I really liked how well he carried the movie in the leading role. I wasn’t surprised, because I don’t judge the actors I don’t know previously, and only recently I realized he has a minor role in Black Death.
I can only hope to see more of him, both as director and writer, as well as acting. With Ghost Stories, he showed to be a very talented professional with a style of work I liked.
A fundamental aspect of a horror movie is the sound. Ghost Stories uses it with formidable skill, from the minimalistic score to the loud sound effects, and everything in between.
Then, there is the cinematography. So good, almost perfect, sometimes resembling The Damned United, I think a lot of it because of the similar settings. However, The Damned United is slightly better, being one of my favorites if not The favorite cinematography in the movies reviewed in the channel.
I also liked the special effects, including make-up and computer-generated. Everything was used in the right amount, really helping to enhance the horrifying visuals, and consequently, the disturbing feeling of the movie.
Considering the sum of the cinematography and special effects, maybe the visuals are the thing I liked the most about the movie. It’s not as fundamental as the story, but these two things took it to a higher level.
Ghost Stories is a horror film of the highest quality possible, better than most cash-grab mainstream horrors. Yet, with the profoundly disappointing ending, the movie was thrown in somewhat of mediocrity purgatory.
Ghost Stories has amazing performances, beautiful cinematography, and a theme I love. I believe it would be one of my favorite horror movies of the last few years if it wasn’t for the resolution.
I loved the majority of the movie, that would be a 9 Moons if it wasn’t for the conclusion that I would give 1 Moon. I like everything else so much that I couldn’t be so harsh because of a disappointing finale, so I decided to give 7 Moons.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget to support the public health agencies and professionals.