In 2017, Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson adapted a famously innovative and notoriously frightening play for the big screen. The result, which I have just watched, was one of the most unnerving horror films I have seen in a long time.
I have rarely thought of anything else since I watched it. Steven Speilberg once said that ‘The Shining’ is a compulsive watch, you habitually go back to it. I think I have found my ‘Shining’ and here’s why.
Dyson’s prior works make no secret of their horror and mystery influences. That love of classic horror is infused into the clay of this monolithic monument to the genre.
Using influences and all of its techniques, Dyson and Nyman create a supreme example of horror which stands in mourning and respect of its history. ‘Ghost Stories’ is the last vestige of true horror in an age where paint-by-numbers schlock dominates cinemas.
‘Ghost Stories’ pays tribute to horror and its fans whilst simultaneously turning it on its head. The film itself works on multiple levels which is genius because that is a theme of the narrative. It is an examination of horror and how it scares us, whilst giving the audience the frights they want from a horror film.
The psychological profiles are fascinating, there is always a deeper meaning to what characters say or do. Their quirks and stories have an explanation when the final twist is revealed.
There is a dark irony in the fact that Nyman plays a debunker of the paranormal, the reality is far more terrifying than fiction. This film is a visually stunning psychological odyssey through the world of cognitive dissonance and the supernatural.
Early on, the film’s protagonist clues the audience in on how horror movies and fake psychics mislead us. The movie then proceeds to use those same techniques and still gets them to jump. A particularly effective technique is the use of lighting to distort actors’ faces. This makes their features emphasised to an almost cartoonish degree, giving a surreal sensation of brain-fog.
Its cinematography grabs you by the heart with a deathly cold hand and never lets you go. ‘Every frame a painting’ certainly applies here. The sets are littered with clues, encouraging that previously mentioned repeat viewing.
I have become an instant fan of this movie. It came in a beautiful slipcase blu-ray edition with a lovingly crafted booklet and eighties style poster. Now to delve into the special features.