Based on the West End play of the same name written by Jeremy Dyson. ‘Ghost Stories’ is a British horror directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, featuring many tension-filled scenes and plenty of clever story elements throughout, it’s not quite the cliché horror you might expect. As the film definitely takes a unique approach with its storytelling and ideas, and I would say I enjoyed the film quite a bit due to this, although I feel this may not be the same for every viewer.
Plot Summary: Sceptical professor: ‘Phillip Goodman’ embarks on a trip into the terrifying world of the paranormal, after he is given a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions to investigate…
Whilst nothing incredibly original for a horror narrative, this story does allow the film to have almost an anthology-like structure in a way, with the three separate case files all being their own contained story. The film also takes a very interesting direction for the majority of its runtime, mostly focusing on the paranoia and imagination of the human mind, and how certain tragic events throughout life can lead the mind to wander. Whilst I personally think this is a very creative way to explore paranormal encounters and the horror genre in general, I can definitely say not every horror fan would enjoy this element, as I can see many hating this film mainly due to its exploration of these ideas. This concept even plays-into title of the film, which was misspelled as ‘Ghost Storeis’ in much of the pre-release media. This was done to accord with the film’s tagline: ‘The Brain Sees What it Wants to See.’
Andy Nyman portrays the main protagonist of the film (Phillip Goodman), and I’d say he does a pretty great job with the arrogant character he is given, especially being a mostly unknown actor. Then, of course, we also have Phil Whitehouse, Alex Lawther and Martin Freeman as the various victims of the cases, who I also quite enjoyed watching. All the performances here are also backed-up by the writing in the film, as I feel the writing is pretty on point here. Having many elements of dark comedy along with giving some development to the various characters and having some little pieces of information hidden within dialogue for later in the narrative.
The cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland is pretty impressive throughout, only having a few shots throughout the runtime which I thought were a little bland. ‘Ghost Stories’ also utilises many wide-shots throughout the film which really lend themselves to the eerie atmosphere, alongside the hauntingly beautiful original score which also lends itself to the film. This time being handled by Haim Frank Ilfman, a composer who I actually hadn’t heard of before this film. But I do hope to see his name in credits more following on from this, as the soundtrack works perfectly throughout the film. Changing from emotional to tense, to chaotic, without ever feeling rushed.
My main criticism of the film is the usual issue I have with modern horrors, as while I do feel this film builds-up a lot more of an eerie atmosphere than many other horrors. The film is still littered with jump-scares, and while I do believe jump-scares can work if used to a minimal extent, here I felt many of them were just thrown in a points without much reason, the film does have plenty of visual horror however which I appreciate. Another small issue I have is the design of one of the creatures we see in the film, as to me it’s design felt very out-of-place when compared to the other paranormal entities we see within the story, but again this is only a small issue.
In conclusion, ‘Ghost Stories’ is a very distinct horror film, as while I don’t think the film is perfect, I did find it pretty entertaining for the majority of my watch. Having an original story and great direction as well as many attractive shots along with some great writing and a terrific original score, I’d say the film is a definite watch for someone seeking something a little different from the horror genre. Final Rating: low 8/10.