‘Ghost Stories’ is a British horror directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, featuring many tension filled scenes and plenty of clever story elements throughout, it’s not quite the cliché horror you might expect. As the film definitely takes a unique approach with it’s storytelling and ideas, and I would say I enjoyed the film quite a bit due to this, although I feel this may not be the same for every viewer.
We follow skeptical professor: ‘Phillip Goodman’ as he embarks on a trip into the terrifying world of the paranormal, after being given a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions. While nothing incredibly original for a horror narrative, this story does allow the film to have almost an anthology-like structure in a way, with the three separate case files all being their own smaller story.
The film also takes a very interesting direction for the majority of it’s run-time, mostly focusing on the paranoia and imagination of the human mind, and how certain tragic events throughout life can lead the mind to wander. While I personally think this is a very creative way to explore paranormal encounters and the horror genre in general, I can definitely say not every horror fan would enjoy this element, as I can see many hating this film mainly due to it’s exploration of these ideas.
Andy Nyman portrays the main protagonist of the film (Phillip Goodman), and I’d say he does a pretty great job with the arrogant character he is given, especially being a mostly unknown actor. Then of course we also have Phil Whitehouse, Alex Lawther and Martian Freeman as the various victims of the cases, who I also quite enjoyed watching. All the performances here are also backed up by the writing in the film, as I feel the writing is pretty on point here. Having many elements of dark comedy along with giving some development to the various characters and having some little pieces of information hidden within dialogue for later in the narrative.
The cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland is pretty impressive throughout, only having a few shots throughout the run-time which I though were a little bland. ‘Ghost Stories’ also utilizes many wide-shots throughout the film which really lend themselves to the eerie atmosphere, alongside the hauntingly beautiful original score which also lends itself to the film. This time being handled by Haim Frank Ilfman, a composer who I actually hadn’t heard of before this film. But I do hope to see his name in credits more following on from this, as the soundtrack works perfectly throughout the film. Changing from emotional, to tense, to chaotic, without ever feeling too rushed.
My main criticism of the film is the usual issue I have with modern-horrors, as while I do feel this film builds up a lot more of an eerie atmosphere then many other horrors. The film is still littered with jump scares, and while I do believe jump scares can work if used to a minimal extent, here I felt many of them were just thrown in a points without much reason, the film does have plenty of visual horror however which I appreciate. Another small issue I have is the design of one of the creatures we see in the film, as to me it’s design felt very out-of-place when compared to the other paranormal entities we see within the story, but again this is only a small issue.
Overall, ‘Ghost Stories’ is a strange one for me, as while I don’t think the film is perfect, I did find the it pretty entertaining for the majority of my watch. Having an original story and great direction as well as many attractive shots along with some great writing and a terrific original score, I’d say the film is a definite watch for someone seeking something a little different from the horror genre, an 8/10 overall.