I want to say this right now---it kills me to have to write bad reviews. I got into reviewing films in the first place to be able to herald and support the good stuff, the hidden gems, and the indie releases that may otherwise have gone unnoticed.
When I really dislike something, I wonder, "is it me? Have I been in the game too long? Do I need to stop reviewing films?" Since I've become a filmmaker myself, I've become even more conflicted, and another filmmaker recently asked me why I still reviewed films. (See the above, but sometimes I wonder if I should keep going.
Especially after watching a film like this.
So, you know what's coming. Contrary to all of the positive reviews I've seen online, Ghost Stories fell quite flat for me. Watching all of the tales propped up within the wraparound story --- and their incessent talkiness and movement, I wondered if the film had been directed by a theatre director, because it was blocked and staged just like a play in many places. A quick jump over to IMDb confirmed that Ghost Stories was helmed by two directors --- Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson --- who'd both co-written and co-directed the play version of Ghost Stories, which had a good international run and played London's West End for more than two years.
I suspect that version had much more sucess.
The story goes as thus: a man whose job it is to debunk phony psychics is contacted by another in his field, a giant that he grew up watching on television and whom inspired him to also chase down the fraudulent. He gives the man three cases to explore which he cannot debunk and then the protagonist sets out to investigate.
All three stories are riddled by jump scares and nonsense, and I hate to say that watching Ghost Stories was a very frustrating experience. Technically, the film performs, but there's something major missing; heart and empathy. There's no reason to care for any of the one-note characters in this film, and there's barely any horror to be found. Granted, I may not be who this film was made for. My guess --- by the 100% CIS white males onscreen --- is that it's for them, but maybe only for the early teen, non-horror-going demographic.
The film looks and sounds fine, with decent to very good acting, even if I cannot appreciate the overall package. Sadly, there are no extras on this release; I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I can only guess that something went awry or perhaps there were some territorial rights issues somewhere, given Shout!/Scream Factory's excellent track record of great bonus features.
Ghost Stories on Blu-ray is out here in North America from Scream Factory now. You can check out a trailer below and read more on the relase at Scream Factory's site here.