Ghost Stories is the screen adaptation of the hugely popular theatre production. Both the film and theatre versions are written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. Jeremy Dyson is famous for being one of the creators of the League of Gentleman, which you can see come through in this production. Andy Nyman has worked closely with Derren Brown co-writing some of his shows. He adds lots of clever trickery of the mind here too. The quote “the brain sees what it wants you to see” keeps popping up throughout the story. A powerful suggestive technique and it works.
We live in a time when horror films seem to follow the same script, relying on blood, gore and special effects. Ghost Stories leaps back to a time when the quality of the story was the focus. The ability to tell a tale that triggers the imagination so powerfully that you actually are scaring yourself. This is creepy in an intelligent way and the camerawork aims to enhance the script. There are lots of things happening that are just out of focus or slightly out of frame. All this imagery is purposely activating the viewers' mind to unsettle you to the maximum.
This does have a very theatrical feel about it and while I have never seen the theatre production I would guess it is almost identical. Dyson and Nyman do a fantastic job directing, on top of the already mentioned camerawork the sound score is perfectly matched. But more importantly, they inspire great performances from the cast all weaved together with brilliant British humour.
The cast is limited but it's fair to say that there is not one weak point throughout. Andy Nyman plays the lead and it is only after watching the movie that you question the techniques used by him to unnerve the viewer. The three main characters from each story are played brilliantly by Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse and Alex Lawther. The real standout is Alex Lawther, the star of “The end of the F***king World” who pulls off a spectacular performance. Clearly, this guy is going to be a huge star.
All in all, Ghost Stories does exactly what the title suggests. It takes a relatively simple premise and fills it jam-packed full of twists and unexpected turns. It is a masterclass in storytelling in a style that harps back to the old British horror shorts.
If you are looking for something a little different to watch next on Netflix, then Ghost Stories is strongly recommended. A beautifully crafted film that is full of surprises. Just don't watch it on your own before going to sleep.