Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s popular stage performance comes to the big screen in this effective and quintessentially British chiller. Fans of the theatrical spectacle will be happy that the key moments of brilliance that appeared onstage are well represented onscreen, but there’s been a few changes along the way too (something which was inevitable in the process of translating mediums), but that seems to have lose some of its spark.
After receiving a mysterious summons to investigate 3 unexplained cases from an old hero, Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman) gets more than he bargained for, and unearths some scary demons from his past in the process. To tell more would give too much away.
The cast are all great, including Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse and Alex Lawther, with the scares plentiful and, at times, quite brilliant. Whitehouse steals his scenes as a security guard who has to deal with some very unsettling situations at work during the graveyard shift. Freeman is his usual reliable self and adds some nice star power to the finale. Lawther is an actor on the rise and his story (of a young man who has a close encounter with ‘something’ in the woods), is also a highlight of the film.
Ghost Stories works best in creating atmosphere and setting. The three standalone cases are handled competently enough, with some more effective than others. The set-up of the film, including a brilliant opening sequence where Professor Goodman attempts to expose a psychic fraud (played excellently by Nathan Barley himself Nicholas Burns), is well paced. Once Goodman meets up with former TV Psychic debunker Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), who gives him the cases to investigate, the film peaks interest. It also delivers a truly fantastic scare along the way.
Once the finale arrives, the problems start. I can’t go into too much detail but the end of the film felt rushed and a little underwhelming, especially when the individual cases and the over-arching story had built up something quite memorable. There’s plenty here to entertain and the film’s British-ness evokes some great memories of classic BBC horrors from the 70s and 80s but ultimately, Ghost Stories is a fun ride that could have been braver in key areas.
Cast: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Paul Warren, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Nicholas Burns, Leonard Byrne Director: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman Writer: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman Released By: Lionsgate Certificate: 15 Duration: 98 mins Release Date: 6th April 2018