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Review: Ghost Stories

All horror anthologies need a wrap-around story to frame the collection of shorts but few end up being more than just a way to introduce the anthology. Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson's Ghost Stories solves this in a very interesting way, making the individual stories feed into a larger narrative about belief in the supernatural. In doing so, they have created a delightfully creepy and effective film.

Nyman stars as Phillip Goodman, a debunker of supernatural events and psychics. Goodman has made a successful career following the steps of his childhood idol Charles Cameron. Cameron was a paranormal investigator in the 70's who also had a television show where he regularly disproved things that go bump in the night. Cameron went missing decades ago so when he contacts Goodman out of the blue, it sends Goodman out to find him. When he does, he learns of three cases that Cameron could not explain and that has left him shunning all his work. Goodman is shocked to hear his hero no longer is the skeptic he had admired and decides to go interview the three subjects. 

The film is thus structured around Goodman's interviews that flashback into individual stories with plenty of haunting imagery and jump scares. There is a night watchman at an abandoned asylum, a young man who gets into a car accident and has an unexpected visit and an expecting father who is terrorized by a poltergeist.  Each of these stories plays on tropes of the genre in fun ways. Nyman and Dyson have a keen eye for eerie imagery and this helps elevate the somewhat familiar setups. Each story also adds to the theme and central story, something that is very rare in horror anthologies.

Ghost Stories succeeds as more than just a collection of spooky tales. It is clear throughout the film that Nyman and Dyson truly love the genre and want to shake up jaded horror fans who have become skeptics themselves. Scattered throughout the film as sly references to the influences that drive Ghost Stories. Each one is a clever nod and adds to the sense that the film wants to engage in a dialogue about the skepticism baked into so many ghost stories.



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