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Review: GHOST STORIES (2017)

Who doesn’t like a good ghost story? And who isn’t fascinated by the possibility that they might be real? Judging by the number of “non-fiction” shows on the subject, everybody seems to be interested. One show GHOST ADVENTURES even spawned a documentary feature film, DEMON HOUSE. In GHOST STORIES, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman give us three tales of a skeptic’s investigation into allegedly irrefutable proof of the supernatural. But there’s more going on here than simple scares.

Highly skeptical Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman, SEVERANCE, THE COMMUTER) has made a career out of debunking claims of supernatural powers and ghostly encounters. He gets a letter from the man who inspired him, Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne DEAD MAN’S SHOES), a man who is missing and presumed dead. A man who has also made an 180 degree change from skeptic to believer. He gives him a file with three cases he claims are explainable.

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In the first, a night watchman (Paul Whitehouse, THE DEATH OF STALIN) is tormented by childlike creatures in an abandoned asylum. The second involves a distraught young man (Alex Lawther CARNAGE) who does a hit-and-run on a demon. And in the third, a wealthy businessman (Martin Freeman THE HOBBIT, BLACK PANTHER) is visited by something evil while his wife is in the hospital for complications with her pregnancy. After interviewing the three, he returns to see Charles, who has a surprise of his own.

GHOST STORIES would have been an excellent film if it had just stuck to basic scares, there’s plenty of atmosphere and real jumps scares. The first segment is the best straight-up horror story, but the other two certainly have their moments, including a nice EVIL DEAD homage in the second story.

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However, it goes beyond that and into notions of faith and belief, or a lack thereof. Not in a preachy, religious way, (although there is a very interesting conversation with a priest (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith DR STRANGE) between the first two segments), but in a more spiritual sense. Is there anything more? Is blind faith in science and reason as bad as blindly accepting religious dogma? And why do people cling blindly to either?

Even if the final revelation is a bit of a let down, GHOST STORIES is still a very strong film overall, delivering scares, and things to think about.

IFC will release GHOST STORIES in cinemas and on cable VOD Friday, April 20th.

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