The Ghoul - This Movie Does Not Rock
Dir: Gareth Tunley
Starring Tom Meeten, Dan Skinner, Alice Lowe, Paul Kaye, Rufus Jones, Niamh Cusack, Geoffrey McGivern
Populated by several of his former cast members, both in front and behind the camera (Down Terrace and Kill List vet Tunley makes his feature directorial debut), even featuring his wife, and with himself taking an executive producer credit, The Ghoul feels like something of a Ben Wheatley off-cut.
It’s a dark drama that begins with Meeten – supposedly a cop, brought to another mysterious crime scene by a colleague, where a man and a woman were shot several times – but never stopped moving. Is it a mystery? Or a red herring? Is Meetan’s Chris a mystery himself? Or perhaps more? As he goes undercover to investigate a related psychotherapist (Cusack), things begin to become clearer. Or are they merely unravelling?
Tunley’s film is determined to keep its audience on the backfoot, but as it progresses, its early conceits becomes more and more redundant and unnecessary, whilst its true nature is signified far too early to maintain its intrigue. The addition of a second psychotherapist (you can never have too many psychotherapists in a psychological thriller), played wonderfully by McGivern, livens things up and moves us into the realm of the occult and the horror movie (owing more than a passing debt to Boris Karloff’s late ‘60s gem, The Sorcerers.)
It’s strong on atmosphere, performance and its attempt to keep the viewer off balance. But with its fractured, almost abstract time line, it intrigues more than engrosses, and is ultimately a little bit confused and a little bit disappointing.
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