anthologies

[Movie Review] Ghost Stories (2017) ★★★★☆

Philip Goodman scared in his car in Ghost Stories 2017

Ghost Stories is a fresh take on traditional ghost stories ending with a thrilling shocker of a twist.


Ghost Stories is a supernatural horror film about three seemingly different ghost stories that are somehow connected, that takes the form of an anthology setup. It has some big scares, dark humor, surreal parts and tragic elements and a big twist, turning a conventional ghost story trope into something fresh.

Exceptional about the film is that it is based on a play, that is reflected in tone and atmosphere and set design and the fact that the film is divided into different acts. All these elements turn a traditional setup for a ghost story into a highly enjoyable experience, that will surprise you at the end. 


Plot

Philip Goodman was raised by his strict religious Jewish father and has therefore developed a strong fear for the supernatural. Till he sees a Dr. Charles Cameron on tv exposing fake paranormal activities and he explains that seeing these occurrences is a trick of the brain to deal with the fear of death: Existential Terror.

So Philip decides to follow in Charles’ footsteps, till he gets a note from Charles, who is now missing for years, asking him to solve three unsolved paranormal cases. The journey he is set upon, starts him to doubt his belief and that there might be some truth to the existence of the supernatural.


Why you should watch it

The film is divided into three different little ghost stories. It therefore makes this film a kind of an anthology. Three cases that Philip has to debunk. A nightwatchman Tony, who has seen the ghost of a little girl. A young man, Simon, who has encountered the devil. And a businessman Mike, who is tormented by poltergeist activities. 

Each little story has its own vibe and tone and atmosphere. The first story is a real creepy ghost story with a creepy little ghost girl, that has a very eerie vibe and delivers some great scares. It has a typical ghost story setup, but still feels fresh, due to the tragic background story, giving it more depth. 

The second story has some surreal scenes, a very scary vibe and makes use of great camera angels, making it more experimental. It’s has a very claustrophobic feel to it, not only outside on the road in the middle of the night, but at his home with his parents as well. The focus lies on the fear of Simon, turning it into a somewhat absurd and surreal experience. 

The third story is again different from the other two. The haunted man looks far more sane and grounded than the other two men, but soon things turn out to be very sinister and it takes a very surreal turn for Philip. 

Then, the surprise story is set into motion. There is a fourth ghost story hidden inside Philip himself. It’s about his own experience with the paranormal when he was a teenager. Although the film starts with a kind of documentary setup up, and we follow Philip while he tries to solve the cases, it turns around completely, telling a whole different story. This twist is very well done. The ghost stories and Philip’s story are well-crafted and intertwined in an excellent way, forming one big tragic and scary story with a brilliant twist. 

That twist is full with surreal scenes, scares and unravels a little riddle. But is it fully uncovered and there are no unsolved questions left. In hindsight it’s an even more fun watch. 

The film is enjoyable, delivers some great scares, has excellent cinematography, with great storytelling and is intriguing, mysterious and intense. It’s a great mix of horror, drama, trauma, scares, dark absurd humor, surrealism, and tragedy. 


My favorite part

My favorite ghost story is the second one. It’s original, scary and has great cinematography and an intangible elusive atmosphere. We also get to know a little bit more about Philip who resembles Simon a bit. Simon is the most interesting and complex character of these three ghost stories, making his experience the most questionable. As is the encounter with a devil that seems more doubtable than an encounter with a ghost girl, it’s a whole different level of the supernatural. 

But the very best part is the twist. I can’t say anything about it without spoiling it so you’ll have to watch it for yourself. The twist is scary and tragic and shows how wonderfully told and brilliantly woven together this film is. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★★☆

Surreal factor: ★★★★★

Originality factor: ★★★★★


Cast and crew

Ghost Stories is based on the play of the same name written by Jeremy Dyson and premiered in 2010. The film is directed and written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson. It stars Andy Nyman (Philip Goodman), Paul Whitehouse (Tony), Alex Lawther (Simon) and Martin Freeman (Mike).

Duration: 98 minutes. Music by: Haim Frank Ilfman. Cinematography: Ole Bratt Birkeland. Edited by: Billy Sneddon. Produced by: Claire Jones, Robin Gutch. Production company: Altitude Film Entertainment, Warp Films, Catalyst Global Media, Screen Yorkshire. Distributed by: Lionsgate Films.


Check the trailer below


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