Genuinely perfect horror films are a rare beast indeed. In an over-saturated market of lazy, unimaginative assembly line scare-fests, it can be difficult to find a horror movie that provides more then just a few cheap jump scares. Look no further though, because the latest big screen chiller to hit our screens, Ghost Stories, certainly delivers.
Based on Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson‘s long-running West-End smash, Ghost Stories follows Dr Goodman (Nyman), a Professor of Parapsychology who revels in debunking supernatural occurrences and fake psychics, as he investigates three strange cases of ghostly encounters.
What follows is nothing short of nerve shredding! Dyson and Nyman weave a clever linked narrative that plays out like the best anthology show – three short, terrifying tales, each completely unique but ultimately all part of a smart, stylish and confident whole. Paul Whitehouse, Martin Freeman and Alex Lawther star in one of the three stories, and all three actors carry their respective tale in spectacular fashion, selling the scares and eliciting our sympathies in a very short slice of screen time. Likewise, Andy Nyman gives a superb leading performance throughout, essentially the lone straight man in a world of bizarre implausibility.
Under the direction of Dyson and Nyman, Ghost Stories subverts expectations. Taking established horror movie tropes and using them to their full effect, the film utilizes these tried and test methods to not only scare, but to also service the main plot (of which we can say very little for fear of spoiling it). Suffice to say, it’s a film that rewards repeated viewings with multiple clues and Easter Eggs scattered throughout.
Dyson and Nyman also inject proceedings with a cynical sense of humour, providing some slight comfort between each of the terrifying set pieces. But all in all, its the scares that matter most, and the two co-directors deliver the goods in spades. From the obvious jump scares to the more creepy and unsettling imagery, Ghost Stories manages to pay homage to the greatest of the genre, whilst all the while remaining fresh and inventive.
Fans who experienced the play on its original run may not find as much new to enjoy here, despite the obvious quality of the film. Whereas the stage production was a massive literal assault on the senses, the story and scares do lose some of their power through the transfer from stage to screen. But that is ultimately the nature of the beast in these situations – the few changes the creators have made are welcome additions nonetheless and the film still manages to hit the mark every time.
Guaranteed to leave an impression on the subconscious well after watching, Ghost Stories achieves exactly what it sets out to do – spin a clever and engrossing mystery whilst equally scaring the living daylights out of anyone who dares to watch. A superb piece of modern horror from start to finish, we can only hope to see more on the big screen from the minds of Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman.