Ghost Stories

In Cinemas Now

The brain sees what it wants to see.

Skeptic Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman, also co-writing and directing) finds himself creeping toward terror as he investigates a long-lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable hauntings. Co-stars Martin Freeman.

Based on a terrifying hit play, and bringing to mind the Amicus portmanteau horror films of the 1970s, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman’s sophisticated spook show is a real best of British.

Writer/directors Dyson (from TV grotesques The League Of Gentlemen) and Nyman (Severance, The Glass Man) are old hands on the horror scene. The cast mixes familiar faces, from Paul Whitehouse (TV’s The Fast Show) to Martin Freeman (from, well, everything) with new talents like Alex Lawther (The End Of The F**king World). And the whole thing takes place in bleak English backwaters: think empty caravan parks and nicotine-stained pubs.

Professor Goodman (Nyman) debunks psychics for a crappy TV show, until the mysterious recluse Charles Cameron asks him to investigate three stories that might help him change—or indeed lose—his mind. First up is a security guard (Whitehouse) who freaked out while patrolling an abandoned mental hospital at night. Next is a teen (Lawther) who encountered something unspeakable on the moors. Finally is a businessman (Freeman) who faced a poltergeist while his wife was giving birth. But more is going on than first appears.

The shift from stage to screen is handled with aplomb by the writer/directors, although some of the stories (particularly the Freeman episode) feel less substantial, and revelations that felt shattering in person prove more familiar. Still, with strong performances, creepy settings and a wicked sense of humour, this is a campfire horror to cherish, and I can’t wait to see what the film-makers will scare up next.

Empire (UK)

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A creepy, disturbing ghost train with a beefier backbone than its source material, trading on tropes but still making your skin itch.

Time Out London

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This triptych of horror tales is presided over with assurance and some seriously mordant wit by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman.

Little White Lies (UK)

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A potent blend of personal and political that's genuinely haunting.

Total Film (UK)

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Bone-chillingly told and beautifully made, Ghost Stories is an expert twist on an evergreen genre.

Variety (USA)

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There's the phantom of a psychothriller for the ages inside "Ghost Stories" that never quite fights its way out of the film's tightly structured creepshow homage, but the goosebumps it raises are real, and honestly earned.

Hollywood Reporter

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A witty and well-crafted love letter to old-school horror tropes.

Guardian (UK)

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Nyman and Dyson have created a weird world of menace, despair and decay.

Stuff.co.nz (Graeme Tuckett)

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Ghost Stories isn't quite on a par with the very best of the recent horror renaissance. But it delivers its share of shivers and jumps with a restrained inventiveness I truly appreciated. Recommended.