Ghost Stories - This British Throwback Horror Movie Rocks
Dir: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Starring Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther
Ghost Stories is a movie that harks back to the portmanteau classics of the horror genre. You can date them back to the likes of 1945’s Dead Of Night, but this owes more to the (brief) glory days of the early 1970s, in particular the EC-inspired likes of Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror. – those genius films that inspired us all.
Dyson and Nyman first brought this to the stage and now – as a movie – they retain a certain theatricality at times, but even more so in their desire to make sure the scares and suspense are kept in-camera. As with those classic Amicus movies we are presented with a group of tales – three in this case – anchored here by a trio of great actors and terrific performances. Paul Whitehouse is an actor we see far too little of and brilliantly sells the first tale, Martin Freeman dominates the last third, and young Alex Lawther totally rocks everything in the middle. (From The Imitation Game onwards, this guy has stardom just a-waiting in the wings.)
What is great about this movie is how it manages to bring the creepy. There are moments here that will either make you jump, but more likely send that dark, cold shiver down your spine, and that is almost a lost art in the modern day horror movie, but one that is expertly employed here.
It’s not all good news – there are some drawbacks. Dyson (being the unseen quarter of The League of Gentlemen) does veer things almost too far towards the comic in the trio of stories’ set ups, perhaps more than is welcome. (His former and on-going cohorts Pemberton and Shearsmith walk a similar fine line in balancing their own excellent Inside No 9 series, but seem to have found that balance better than co - writers and directors Dyson and Nyman do here.)
But there is much more here to admire than there is to criticise. And while the film takes a while to find its ending, it’s satisfying when it does. And creepy as all hell when you’re waiting to get there.
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