Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Ghost Stories Film Review - A Clammy Hand Clutched Full Of Nightmares

I saw Ghost Stories along with A Quiet Place, both scary movies so appropriate to see them together. Ghost Stories is written and directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson from the stage play of the same name. We start in the horror of 1970's Britain with a Jewish family celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of son Phillip. Played as an adult professor by Andy Nyman, his rejection of religion leads him to a tv career debunking psychics. But then he gets a call to come meet his tv hero, and the psychic debunker that started him on his own career path. In a wintry grey Filey caravan park. The man himself is a mystery and was presumed long dead. But he is alive, but barely, and with the shadow of death behind him.

Phillip is passed three supernatural cases that are unexplained and asked to solve them.

The first involves Paul Whitehouse, as nightwatchman Tony, who experienced a night of terror while at work in an old asylum for young women. With torch lit cavernous rooms and long dark corridors with Correction Unit signs, always worrisome, and a creepy girl in a yellow party dress. This was not La La Land. But something far darker. The man unsurprisingly is depressed with his wife now long gone and daughter with locked-in syndrome and not knowing him.

The second involves Alex Lawther as teenager Simon, with a somewhat dysfunctional family and who is the person upstairs? Simon describes a tense car journey along the dark windy country lanes of our nightmares. Suddenly he knocks down an alien that dashes across the road. And afterwards the car won't start like something in The Twilight Zone, and then something opens the back door and climbs inside. Yes there were clammy hands by this point.

The third story has Martin Freeman as a city dealer Mike, and living in a beautiful home overlooking the open countryside. His story is that of his wife who held off motherhood until she made partner at work, and then at 40, and after £30,000 worth of IVF, fell pregnant. But something was wrong and she had to go into hospital leaving him alone at home one night. Strange poltergeist events started happening in the nursery including a toddler shaped sheet flaying it's arms around in the cot. More clammy hands. The ensuing traumatic birth resulted in the death of his wife and a baby too monstrous to describe.

All three are genuinely scary and worthy of the title horror. But we find the horror is worse than we could ever have imagined, and hope to god we never find ourselves there. With cinematography by the catchily named Ole Bratt Birkeland that has you scanning the screen predicting the horror, and then realise that it is our days and memories where our nightmares are made. And in the long day's night that is where they haunt us.

Terrifically creepy stuff with a first class cast, even if the unmasking was a little Scooby-doo like.

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