Adapted from the Olivier nominated stage show of the same name, Ghost Stories is the new feature film by writing and directing partners Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. Playing with the same comedy and horror devices and tropes we’ve come to expect from them, the duo manage to successfully retain all of of the freshness and humour of their hugely popular stage show, but there’s no denying that the production suffers a little from looking way too much like a made-for-TV film instead of a fully fledged cinematic project. Having said that, this should in no way put you off from catching this otherwise brilliantly written and expertly crafted production.
Andy Nyman is Professor Philip Goodman, a renown sceptic who has made a name for himself debunking the work of reprehensible charlatans and those of pry on the naivety of others for their own gain. Very early on in the story, we learn that Goodman’s hatred for religion and all that comes with it, stems from his experiences of growing up in a devout Jewish family with a bullying father at the head of it. Receiving a mysterious note from his one time idol and famous fellow sceptic Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), Philip is intrigued and decides to pay the man, who now lives in caravan by the seaside, a visit to find out more.
Now on his death bed, Cameron entrusts Goodman with a list of names of people whom he says will help prove that everything the two sceptics fought against all their lives, is in fact true. To prove it, Goodman must conduct three separate interviews with three people who have all had recent encounters with evil, and who never fully recovered from their terrifying experiences.
Paul Whitehouse is utterly brilliant as security guard Tony, an otherwise pragmatic man who after a horror filled night on the job, has become convinced of the existence of the afterlife. Nyman and Dyson do a great job in avoiding the usual horror tropes, and even when they do fall into those, they somehow manage to do it with tongue firmly in cheek.
Mixing horror and comedy to tell a hugely enjoyable story, the duo enlist the help of some very well known British actors in their endeavour. Alex Lawther, who is seldom off our screen these days and for good reason, is fantastic as troubled teen Simon a nervy paranoid mess whose life has taken a turn for the dark after a late night encounter on a deserted country road. Martin Freeman is the boasting ex banker whose own life descends into chaos after his wife becomes pregnant with their first child.
On the whole, Ghost Stories reconciles its audiences with some of the old horror shows of yesteryears, think Tales of The Unexpected or even the earlier episodes of The Twilight Zone, while injecting some much needed humour to the proceedings. Genuinely terrifying and highly entertaining.