500 Days Of Film Reviews Ghost Stories Starring Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther And Martin Freeman
Philip Goodman (Andy Nyman), professor of psychology, arch-skeptic and “belief-buster” has his rationality tested to the hilt when he receives a letter from beyond the grave. His mentor, Charles Cameron, the “original” parapsychologist, went missing 15 years before, presumed dead. However, he is now requesting a meeting.
Cameron is alive but extremely sick and needs Goodman to find rational explanations for three stories that have shaken his beliefs to the core. As Goodman investigates, he meets three haunted people - each with a tale more terrifying than the last.
Is It Any Good?
Before it became a film, Ghost Stories was a hugely successful, Olivier-nominated play. I can well imagine that, in the intense environment of a theatre, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s spooky tale would have been extremely effective.
Sadly, something vital has been lost in the adaptation from stage to screen.
That is not to suggest that the film is without merit. Ghost Stories looks great (a brilliantly bleak colour palette) and it is refreshing to see an old fashioned, narrative-led ghost story on the big screen.
Meanwhile, the film features a brilliant cast. Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther and Martin Freeman are superb. While Freeman gets all the big, scene stealing moments, I particularly enjoyed Whitehouse’s portrayal of night watchman, Tony, and was extremely impressed by the range of unsettling emotions conveyed by Alex Lawther.
However, Ghost Stories takes too long to get going and then fails to pull its narrative strands together satisfactorily. In addition, bar a series of inevitable (and, frankly, irritating) jump scares, the film isn’t nearly scary enough.
Ghost Stories also struggles with its tone. It wants to scare us and also make us laugh. There are a couple of funny moments but, unfortunately, these undermine the movie's supernatural atmosphere - making the film feel rather ridiculous at times.
Again, I can picture how well this story might have worked on stage. However, on screen, the horror cliches and scattering of clues felt heavy handed. I’m not suggesting that I guessed the ending exactly but the conclusion of Ghost Stories didn’t surprise me either. I felt that I had seen it all before.
I wish that I had seen Ghost Stories at the theatre. I certainly see the potential in this story - it could have made a great scary movie. However, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s film just misses the mark.
Have you seen Ghost Stories? If you have, what did you think of this film? Let me know in the comments section below or via Facebook or Twitter (@500DaysOfFilm).