Film review: ‘GHOST STORIES’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’
Ghost Stories is an effective horror anthology with touches of Edgar Allen Poe and the Twilight Zone but most notably, British films of the 1960’s and 70’s like Vault of Horror. There’s also a hint of Charlie Brooker’s acerbic and morbid morality tales.
The film centres on Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman who also co-wrote and co-directs) a prominent TV sceptic who takes great pride in publicly exposing shonky psychics and spiritualists. When he’s summoned to the home of the man who inspired his career, the mysterious and very cantankerous academic Charles Cameron, he’s presented with three cases that seemingly defy explanation: a nightwatchmen (Paul Whitehouse) menaced by an evil presence in an abandoned asylum, a teen (Alex Lawther) confronted by a monster in the forest at night and an arrogant financier (Martin Freeman) attacked by a poltergeist. Cameron feels these are evidence of genuine supernatural forces and pose the ultimate test of Goodman’s belief in scientific reason above spirituality and faith.
This cleverly conceived and often tense horror film thankfully relies on implied threat, a pervading sense of dread and psychological chills rather than gore or depravity. That said, it does contain some fine scares including a few wicked pop-outs. Directors Nyman and Jeremy Dyson also make excellent use of locations with the old asylum and dark, abandoned tunnels acting as very threatening spaces.
Admittedly, the three main stories work best when there’s a disturbing sense of the unknown at work so they tend to be more effective in the build-up than the pay-off.
There are some revelations about the link between these stories that it would be wrong to spoil and these will be more of a surprise to some viewers than others. Any telegraphed plot twist, however, do little to diminish the impact of this impressive old-school British horror film.
Nick’s rating: ***1/2
Director(s): Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson.
Release date: 25th Oct 2018.
Running time: 98 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show