Ghost Stories Blu-ray | DVD
Directors: Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson
Screenwriters: Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson
Cast: Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Paul Warren
Distributor: Scream Factory | IFC Midnight
Not Rated | 98 Minutes
Release Date: September 4, 2018
“Everything is exactly as it seems.”
Written and directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, Ghost Stories is an atmospheric, impeccably crafted British horror anthology that subverts genre conventions while delivering legitimate chills. Adapted from their stage play, the film sees Nyman (of The Commuter and Death at a Funeral) reprising his role as Phillip Goodman, a well-known professor who has devoted his life to exposing phony psychics and supernatural shenanigans.
A debunker of all things paranormal, Goodman believes that it is his life’s work to stop people’s lives from being ruined by superstition. He receives an invitation to visit a famed 1970s paranormal investigator, Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), who inspired him as a kid, but disappeared decades ago. Now living as a sick and impoverished old man, Cameron asks Goodman to investigate a few unsolved cases of supposedly real ghost sightings.
Goodman sets out to investigate three incidents: a night watchman (Paul Whitehouse) plagued by disturbing visions as he patrols an abandoned asylum; an occult-obsessed teenager (Alex Lawther of Freak Show and Black Mirror) involved in a nightmarish car accident deep in the woods; and a wealthy investor (Martin Freeman of Sherlock and Black Panther) haunted by the spirit of his unborn child. Will looking into these inexplicable encounters make a believer out of Goodman, or will the professional debunker be forced to expose his childhood hero as a fraud?
A love letter to classic British horror anthologies from Amicus and Hammer Productions, Ghost Stories is an old-fashioned fright film, brilliantly acted and magnificently staged. Kudos to cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland (The Little Stranger), composer Haim Frank Ilfman, and production designer Grant Montgomery for creating a genuine sense of dread throughout, a kind of lingering disquiet that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. It’s funny, scary as hell, and features some of the most beautifully macabre sequences you’re likely to see this year.
Nyman and Dyson, making their feature-length directorial debuts, deliver one of the best horror anthologies in recent memory, and one of the best genre films of the year. In front of the camera, Nyman, Lawther, and Freeman turn in top-notch performances. As for the disc, Scream Factory and IFC Midnight offer up a bare-bones release with a 1080p widescreen presentation (2.40:1 aspect ratio), filled with subtle textures, deep blacks, and vibrant colors.
Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is crisp and filled with nuances; every groan and creak will send chills up your spine. Unfortunately, there aren’t any special features included with this release; I would love to hear an audio commentary by Nyman and Dyson or watch a few featurettes on casting, visual effects, and other aspects of the filmmaking.
Still, despite being disappointed by the lack of bonus materials on this Blu-ray release, Ghost Stories is absolutely worth seeking out for its superb performances, sagaciously structured storytelling, and an immeasurable amount of existential dread.