Title: Ghost Stories
Director(s): Jeremy Dyson & Andy Nyman
Actor(s): Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman
Runtime: 1 hour 38 minutes
What initially appears to be a fairly traditional haunted-house anthology turns into a disturbing study of the debilitating effects of guilt. Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) is a professional debunker of ‘paranormal’ phenomena; his orthodox Jewish upbringing and overbearing father has given him a distrust of anything that can’t be proven by science.
When he meets his hero, famous skeptic Charles Cameron, Cameron appears to be a changed man: telling Phillip he’s full of shit and giving him three audio recordings that prove beyond a doubt the existence of the unexplainable. Phillip interviews the people from the audio recordings (Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther and Martin Freeman) and fantasy and reality begin to mix, forcing him to revisit a traumatic event from his past.
If you’re in the mood for a nice feel-good movie to restore your faith in humanity, this isn’t it. However, it’s inventiveness and visceral, sometimes bonkers screenplay make it worth watching for horror buffs and fans of more standard psychological drama alike. The acting is uniformly strong, and the film does an excellent job at building tension through its tense camerawork and general ambiguity.
This has become kind of a cliche of the horror genre but it’s what you don’t see that’s really unsettling. It’s one of those movies where you don’t really know what it’s about until you actually watch it. The posters, the trailers, etc. are all misleading and the final reveal is a nihilistic sucker-punch for the viewer. I did feel that things dragged a bit near the end when everything started to go acid-trippy, but overall Ghost Stories is a solid piece of psychological horror with an emphasis on the main character’s fractured mental state.