Ghost Stories Review
It might not have you screaming and hiding behind your hands but it will definitely leave a chill down your spine.
Professor Goodman prides himself on explaining the unexplainable and separating fact from fiction, but even he will be forced to rethink his beliefs in Ghost Stories.What started out as a 2010 stage play written and directed by Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman and Sean Holmes has now been re-worked for the big screen with Dyson and Nyman again directing and this time Nyman also playing the lead character. Professor Goodman (Nyman) is a skeptic through and through which makes his role presenting a series called Psychic Cheats a dream job. With a TV crew at the ready Goodman goes around debunking and exposing fraudulent psychics who claim to have the ability to communicate with the dead, but the arrival of a mysterious package beckons the good Professor to take on a side project and investigate three apparently inexplicable paranormal cases.Taking it in his stride and confident in his own disbelief in ghosts and ghouls, Goodman works his way through the three case-files, certain that they can each be explained with logic and science. First Goodman interviews a former nightwatchman (played brilliantly by Paul Whitehouse) who had a bad experience one night on the job, which turned out to be his last; he then pays a visit to a nervous wreck of a teenager, Simon Rifkind (Alex Lawther) who got more than he bargained for when he borrowed his dad's car; and finally he meets wealthy financier Mark Priddle (played by Martin Freeman who’s perfectly eerie at times) who encountered a malevolent spirit whilst at home alone.
The beauty of Ghost Stories is that it isn’t what you expect it to be. Dyson and Nyman cleverly lull you into a false sense of security as they work their way through cinematic horror tropes and jump scares - which are not all predictable - before they pull the rug out from beneath your feet and start to mix things up a bit. It’s the kind of film that once the credits start rolling you want to immediately rewind and watch it again in cased you missed something because as Professor Goodman says ‘the brain sees what it wants to see’. The camera work is effectively creepy, pulling you into the frame at the right time as the music amps up the tension at the right moments to successfully make the most of the scares. It’s also quite dark, which lends itself to the genre as you can feel yourself scanning the screen trying to look out for what’s creeping around the corner. It’s a well written little gem that has fun with the genre and moulds it into something a bit new. The film does edge down a path that has a slightly serious tone and political commentary but it’s no way near enough to engulf the more important scares.
Just as soon as you get comfortable Dyson and Nyman switch everything up.
The opening is fairly slow but it does steadily build momentum with the cases Goodman investigates, with each one becoming slightly more chilling than the last. Indeed, just as soon as you get comfortable Dyson and Nyman switch everything up. Despite the air of predictability towards the end it’s not enough to detract from your enjoyment. It’s a great film with little bits added in along the way that will get you paying close attention trying to work it all out, and at the end of it all, some of you are going to end up sleeping with the lights on.
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