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Review: A Paranormal Sleuth Investigates Three ‘Ghost Stories’

Review: A Paranormal Sleuth Investigates Three ‘Ghost Stories’


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Martin Freeman in “Ghost Stories.”

Credit
IFC Midnight

That “Ghost Stories,” an homage of sorts to vintage British horror anthologies, is earning overwhelming raves on Rotten Tomatoes is more shocking than anything lurking within its frames. Managing to feel at once painfully slow and bafflingly truncated, this creaky triptych of not-so-scary tales is a tame curiosity of movie nostalgia.

Written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, and based on their 2010 stage play, the movie slinks after Professor Goodman (Mr. Nyman), debunker of paranormal claims and scourge of charlatans. A mysterious tape directs him to investigate three victims of supposedly supernatural visitations: A night watchman at an abandoned former asylum (Paul Whitehouse); a twitchy young man (Alex Lawther) who believes he saw a demon; and a wealthy widower (Martin Freeman) troubled by a poltergeist.

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Trailer: ‘Ghost Stories’

A preview of the film.


By IFC MIDNIGHT on Publish Date April 12, 2018.


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Each tale, though, is merely a series of enigmatic brush strokes, narrative outlines bristling with loose ends. The widower feeds what appears to be dog food to his possibly monstrous baby, but we never see its face. The unplumbed dynamic between the young man and his peculiarly angry parents is much more unsettling than the horned entity that provokes his crisis. And Goodman’s recurring visions of anti-Semitism tease without clarity or payoff.

Shot on location in Yorkshire, England, “Ghost Stories” feels cramped and claustrophobic, its oppressively dark locations — a weeping tunnel, a dank cellar, a grimly decorated trailer — straining our eyes and our patience. There is, however, some humor among the bygone boos, including the fact that more than one specter wants to stick its fingers in Goodman’s mouth. Sorry, but you’ll have to wait for the end to find out why.



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