Release date: 6th April 2018/Watch the trailer here
Co-directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson and adapted from the writer duo’s own stage play, Ghost Stories is a chilling British horror film centred around Phillip Goodman (Nyman), a sceptic who has built his career around debunking fraudulent psychics on television. One day, he receives an invitation to visit a famed 1970s paranormal investigator who inspired Phillip as a child, and he is asked to investigate three incidents of supposedly real and inexplicable hauntings: a night watchman (Paul Whitehouse) terrorised by the spirit of a young girl, a teenager (Alex Lawther) whose car breaks down in the middle of a woods haunted by a sinister horned creature, and a financier (Martin Freeman) whose home was plagued by an apparent poltergeist.
Ghost Stories automatically achieves the two most important factors that so many horror films frequently fail to achieve: it’s both a good film, and it’s genuinely frightening at the same time. It’s comprised of three fantastically entertaining supernatural stories, but it’s set apart from the rest by just how uniquely and beautifully well-crafted it is. The film cleverly plays with familiar genre tropes and the audience’s expectations and, as a result, the jump scares never feel cheap or overused, but well-earned instead.
Good performances also serve to elevate Ghost Stories: Nyman makes for a sympathetic figure in the lead role, but the standout is Freeman, playing against type by being utterly unlikeable, and evidently having a lot of fun with it in the process. As a horror anthology, it’s immensely satisfying – particularly when the pieces of the puzzle finally start to fit together, building towards a plot-twist ending that’s just surprising enough to be rewarding, making the entire experience feel worthwhile: there’s enough attention to detail to be found here for Ghost Stories to be picked apart for hours afterwards.
It may not attempt anything particularly new with the genre – but then again, it isn’t really trying to. There’s a lot here that might feel familiar to horror movie aficionados but, seeing as Ghost Stories is something of a love letter to old-school horror films at heart, that’s probably Nyman and Dyson’s intentions. Witty enough to provide a few laughs among the frights and just disturbing enough to be bone-chillingly creepy, Ghost Stories makes for an intelligent and hugely enjoyable addition to the horror catalogue, breathing a touch of fresh air into an oversaturated genre.