We love a good ghost story here, it's our favourite form of horror. Partly because one of us is a little on the squeamish side. So the presence of a good old fashion ghost story at the Festival was a winner. Especially when it's a translation to screen of the much respected play Ghost Stories.
Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson have adapted their hit stage play to the screen and for the most part have done an impressive job of it. Little on screen looked as if dragged from the stage and the three tales work well set up as three cases.
Nyman's Professor Phillip Goodman has spent his life debunking fake paranormal activity and is delighted and intrigued when a long missing expert in the field contacts him. Arriving at a caravan perched precariously on a rapidly dissolving cliff, Goodman is literally thrown a file of three cases that it is claimed cannot be solved with logic and reason. Scoffing, Goodman heads off to visit the three people and to investigate their 'incidents'.
Paul Whitehouse, proving he can act in something other than bloody insurance commercials, is Tony Matthews. A borderline alcoholic and former night watchman who had a very nasty experience in an abandoned mental institute, Alex Lawther is young Simon Rifkind who had a very nasty experience whilst out illicitly driving his parent's car and Martin Freeman is Mike Priddle, a boorish stockbroker who has a nasty experience whilst 'working' from home. Each of the tales are nicely put together and firmly grounded on the realistic side of horror and they build a wonderful sense of creeping dread where even a suburban home in daylight seems way too creepy.
There are one or two slips where, for example, a loitering presence is focused on way too obviously and on the whole, there isn't a huge amount here that's wildly new but the package is put together so expertly, that I found myself not wanting to pick at the threads but just to get on with gripping my seat arms with fear.
Ghost Stories succeeds in its mission to capture that good old fashioned M R James feel of terror. The low budget, everyday set up is perfect and though it loses it's way a little as it tries to bash you with The Twist at the end, I had a whale of a time watching this. Laugh out loud funny in places, and with a good four of five proper scares, this is proper old fashioned spooky fun.