May 21, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

“Ghost Stories” Thrills

By Whitney Scott Bain

The best horror film of the year ingeniously crafted with twists and turns you don’t see coming. The film stars Martin Freeman, Andy Nyman and Alex Lawther, and is written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman.

Professor Goodman (Nyman), a renowned paranormal skeptic and television psychologist is given information by his dying idol and fellow skeptic that they both fought against all their lives are actually true. Goodman must interview three people who have had contact with the dark side, but his nature believes that he can prove them as hoaxes.

We follow Goodman on his quest with each story progressively, supernaturally horrifying in its own way.

The first begins in an abandoned insane asylum and a night watchman’s tale that is quite the creepiest of the three. The tension and brilliant cinematography adds to the foreboding atmosphere in this episode. The shades of dark and light give it a John Alton feel as if he filmed a color movie. Nyman wonderfully projects in this scene nervously wondering what could be in the dark reacting to an unseen force.

After visiting a priest and talking with him about the powers of good and evil, Goodman’s skepticism becomes mixed wondering if there’s much more to the supernatural than he’s thought to disbelieve.

The second episode is a haunted house story where a young man named Simon Rifkind (Lawther chews up the scenery with his performance) may or may not be imagining there’s something unnatural that goes bump in the house he lives in. Then again, there’s the “thing in the woods” to contend with.

The final installment begins with Mike Priddle (Freeman) and his uneasiness with the loss of his wife and baby that haunt him as ghostly specters. Freeman, (who portrayed Dr. Watson in the BBC series, Sherlock.) steals the show here.

There isn’t one bad performance in “Ghost Stories”. Every cast member shines in their roles. Dyson and Nyman have created a scary film based on a play that they created for the stage and it works very well. It has elements of Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, the spookiness of “Night of the Demon” and a “horror” feel as if M. R. James wrote the story. There’s a bit of humor injected into the story that works well with the pacing. Effects are outstanding ranging from practical to crafty CGI. Production design is spot on as if it were a Hammer film. A must see!

Twists and turns make “Ghost Stories” a must-see.
Photo: “Ghost Stories”

Opens April 20 at selected theaters and Cable On-Demand.

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