Ghost Stories (2017)

Professor Phillip Goodman is out to prove all paranormal claims to be false. In his quest, he encounters three haunting claims that will have him less certain of his resolve.

Written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, who also stars, Ghost Stories is a sort of anthology with mini-stories within the bigger one, however the way the film feels is not as an anthology but as just a regular film with subplots. The anthology classification applies but only in its very broad definition. As opposed to the typical film of this category, Ghost Stories does not have a bunch of short films that are under a same theme or somehow connected, the stories presented here all relate to the lead in some way as he is trying to debunk them. This works in that it creates a more coherent film but keeping all stories as subplots to the main one as mentioned above.

One of the best parts of Ghost Stories it its cast giving strong performances. In the lead of Professor Phillip Goodman, the debunker of ghosts and paranormal phenomena is actor and co-writer/co-director Andy Nyman. His multiple hats definitely work well and to the characters advantage by making him particularly close to the material. His performance is the grounding one for the film and he sets the tone right out the gate, giving his skeptic character a strong conviction and a passion for what he does. Playing against him for a good part of the film is Martin Freeman as Mike Priddle. Here, and as usual for him really, Freeman gives a great performance that outshines just about everyone else’s, stealing all the scenes he’s in. Here, his character of Mike Priddle gives off an odd vibe which works great for the story. Freeman plays him almost completely serious with a few moments here and there that make the viewer feel like something is off about him. His performance is definitely the best of the film. Rounding out the trio of top performances is Alex Lawther as Simon Rifkin, a character that may just be more than he seems and most likely not in any way the viewer will expect.

Another strong point of the film is the cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkelan. Their work makes the film look fantastic and helps create a sense of coherence between the different stories, sub-plots, creating a specific look and feel for the film that stays throughout the film. Their shooting style works perfectly for the story’s tone and the general gloominess of the whole thing. Working together with the cinematography is the editing by Billy Sheddon who takes those images and edits them in a way that is just great. It’s hard to explain without giving too much away but there are a few particular scenes where the editing makes the scene.

While Ghost Stories relies a lot on atmosphere, acting, and the unseen, the special effects that are seen look great. The work done under special effects supervisor Ian Rowley and special effects coordinator Rob Rowley loos great with one particular piece being the piece-de-resistance and looking scary as it should be. Their work is peppered throughout but that one piece showcases their capacities and talents very clearly.

Ghost Stories is a beautifully shot, well-acted, gloomy film, The stories within the main story are interesting but not all that scary unfortunately as they rely a lot on jump scares for their fear factor and these will be hit or miss depending on each viewer. The film does have a good atmosphere and is an easy watch, it just doesn’t fully deliver on the scares for this reviewer while the ending is one that is just annoying and feels like a copout.