Review: ‘Ghost Stories’ Manages To Give You Chills – Three Different Ways

 
Ghost Stories
follows Professor Dr. Phillip Goodman (played by co-writer/director Andy Nyman),
who doesn’t believe in ghosts. Or spirits. Or goblins and ghouls. Phillip has focused
his life on disproving these stories and encounters on his own show called
Psychic Cheats. He goes around to different places and figures out the
so-called truth behind the paranormal encounters that people claimed to
have. Phillip is cynical and jaded,
vehemently opposed to anything supernatural. He believes that the brain sees
what it wants to see and lives by this motto.
Charles Cameron is one of Phillip’s idols. Just like
Phillip, Charles made his career disproving ghost stories. Out of the blue
Charles disappeared and no one knows what happened to him. Phillip has always
wished he could meet Charles and one day, years after Charles has been presumed
dead, Phillip gets his wish. He receives a mysterious package that has a tape
and a picture of a man holding that day’s newspaper. The tape is from Charles
and invites Phillip to come meet him. Without delay Phillip goes to meet his
idol. Charles is living in a trailer that is in a state of filth and he is clearly
sick. Surprisingly, Charles condemns Phillip for his work and calls him a coward. Charles tells Phillip that there were three cases that he
could never explain which lead him to change his belief about the supernatural.
Charles gives him the cases and challenges him to come back and explain them to
him…if he can. 
The rest of Ghost
Stories
is broken down into three parts, one for each of the cases. The
first follows Tony Matthews (Paul Whitehouse), a night watchman at a former asylum for women. The
case involves incidents that happened at the asylum that caused Tony to
immediately quit the job and never be the same again. Phillip interviews Tony
and his priest before making his diagnosis about the event. The next case
focuses on Simon Rifkind (Alex Lawther), a troubled teenager who has clearly been through hell
and back. Simon takes his father’s car for a nighttime joyride, and hits a
mysterious figure. Little did he know this ride would forever change his
life. Lastly, we explore the case of Mike Priddle (Martin Freeman). Mike’s wife is pregnant and
is spending the night in the hospital for observation. While she is gone, Mike
experiences paranormal activity in his bedroom. He doesn’t know how to explain
it, but is terrified from what he is seeing.

Ghost Stories has
interesting elements throughout that Nyman and fellow writer/director Jeremy
Dyson employ. We see various old footage that is able to provide a context for
certain characters and past events. At other times Ghost Stories is filmed like a documentary with Dr. Goodman
speaking directly to the camera. These different stylistic features keep Ghost Stories unique and interesting. Nyman
and Dyson show the audience each of the cases that Phillip investigates instead
of just having him hear them through his interviews, breaking the film up
into almost four short films – all unique and different. It was a clever way to
keep Ghost Stories fresh and the audience
engaged. Nyman and Dyson do a masterful job of building dread through all the
stories. The characters have slow, methodical movement as they creep around
corners – terrified of what they may see. Nyman and Dyson use shadows, slow music, long
camera shots, and the perfect emphasis on sounds – breathing, knocking,
and steps – to set a very tense and enjoyable experience. Ghost Stories doesn’t disappoint, and although it may find itself
deep in the weeds towards the end, it was still an enjoyable experience overall.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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