By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Ghost Stories is loads of fun. It’s a horror film that pays tribute to old classics, but still keeps you guessing with its sometimes wild twists and turns. The scares are also well-timed, and just so entertaining – it’s like a dodgy old ghost train, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Based on the critically acclaimed play by British masters of horror Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, Ghost Stories sees sceptical Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) investigate three very ‘unexplainable’ cases of the supernatural that put the man’s faith and sanity to the test.
There’s something very welcoming about Ghost Stories. In between today’s more visceral and political horror films like Get Out, and regurgitated trash like the recent Flatliners, there are few films that can keep things relatively entertaining and camp, but still give you a good fright. Ghost Stories ticks all the boxes in here. It’s full of tropes, but certainly knows how to play with them.
It’s something we’ve seen a million times over. Rooms turn cold, chairs start flying, and in storm the generic paranormal investigators (I do like Ed and Lorraine Warren from The Conjuring though). Phillip Goodman is your stereotypical sceptical professor that we’ve come to expect, but Nyman’s performance makes him into a surprisingly complex and interesting character, and the gradual revealing of underlying circumstances also make for a fascinating mindf*ck that I highly recommend watching. Can’t say anything more about that. Go in knowing as little as possible and you’ll be blown away.
The film also thrives off its anthology structure. The three stories investigated by Goodman are all in familiar settings but with colourful characters teeming with quirk and crazy. There’s rarely a dull moment. In some respects, the film even reminded me of Dickens’s ‘Christmas Carol’, especially towards the epic finale.
Nyman and Dyson also cleverly take us on a mini-tour of modern British stereotypes. There’s the old git of a security guard Tony (clearly a Brexit supporter), played by The Death of Stalin’s Paul Whitehouse, struggling student Simon played brilliantly by the young and tortured looking looking Alex Lawther (Black Mirror), and snob of a doctor Mike in one of Martin Freeman’s most interesting roles in years. Finally, we get a break from his generic big budget franchise stuff. Honestly, I’ve never been too much of a fan of his work, but he’s brilliant here… not a hobbit in sight.
This funhouse is topped off by Frank Ilfman’s wonderful score that sounds like the lovechild of Danny Elfman and Jerry Goldsmith. It fits wonderfully to the whimsical madness of the film and again harks back to that good old fashioned Hammer horror of the Britain of old.
There’s just so much to take away from this film. You’ll want to see it again, like me. Go this weekend and let me know what you thought.
Ghost Stories is in Czech cinemas from June 7.