Ghost Stories

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Ghost Stories

REVIEWS

There’s a recognisably British strain of horror – musty and fusty – that fans don’t see a lot of these days. It involves thick-aired rooms with peeling wallpaper and mansplaining professors who eventually get what’s coming.

Ghost Stories scratches that itch nicely; it’s a triptych of horror tales that’s presided over with assurance and some seriously mordant wit by playwrights-turned-directors Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. They’ve given their own 2010 stage smash a cinematic reboot that’s both faithful and fresh, without sacrificing any of its macabre intimacy. Ghost Stories is smart, surprising and gorgeously detailed, down to the analog tech of its sorta bygone setting, a brownish world that’s weirdly familiar, yet alien. It’s also incredibly scary.

The three storylines’ common denominator is parapsychologist Phillip Goodman (Nyman). In truth, this is an odd profession for a man whose sole mission is to debunk witnesses to the supernatural. The arrival of a mysterious audio cassette sends him to meet three victims of ghostly encounters: a night watchman (Paul Whitehouse), a nervy teenager (Alex Lawther) and a Scottish financier (Martin Freeman). Each tale brings harrowing opportunities to change a doubter’s mind.

Nyman neatly charts Goodman’s arc from condescension to icy terror, but it’s Whitehouse and Freeman who steal the show. Freeman’s performance is a disquieting mix of cockiness and menace. If the film’s climax feels a touch clichéd, it barely spoils the ride. This is a horror flick done right.

The bottom line
Smart, surprising and detailed.

DETAILS

Ghost Stories
DirectorJeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman
CastingAndy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse