Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Ghost Stories (2017) Is An Unwavering Warning To Face Personal Turmoil

An acclaimed paranormal skeptic is taken on an unsuspected journey to investigating three cases of unexplained phenomena that he attempts to debunk, but ultimately haunts him.

Written & Directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman

The world doesn't stop moving because we do. Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) is Ghost Stories steadfast central believer in such a universally used statement. Moving upwards, acheiving, and finding joy in his career. A Jewish man once a Jewish boy growing up in England, his family not unscathed by the woes of navigating a land not kind to their traditions and the militancy of them by his elders. It is only half of the weight he carries as we meet him as a confident debunker of the unknown. Occupying his time as a television series host and endless researcher of his predecessors, one Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne) who is a mystery himself.

Phillip's desire to unravel Charles' full story leads to his investigation of three cases that are a dare to his rational disposition. Three men, varying in age, class, temperment, but likely not in psychological condition speak to Phillip about their terrifying experiences. All are pretty familiar to anyone: images in abandoned "nuthouse", something not human lurking in the woods, and an angry, unborn child. Yet both writers and directors Nyman and Jeremy Dyson rely on convention to tell a much more personal, deeper story. The stuff of a thousand horror films is what Ghost Stories begs us to not take advantage of.

For all of the unsettling figures and ambivalence towards reality, the heart of Ghost Stories is purposefully cruel, bitter, and sad. It's successful at loading each seemingly unrelated story on the back of Phillip, a person you cannot easily condemn for his arrogance because of his gradually apparent fragility. The best move here is the emotional range the story invokes. Even as a tight piece with a helping of vignette's, the narrative is far from one note while quietly immersive. Ghost Stories is solemn, eerie, and a class on how so important those creepy tales are to our personal encounters with grief and shortcomings.

Ghost Stories will have a limited theatrical release. But fret not with a VOD option beginning Friday, April 20th.
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