The film is presented partly as a documentary presented by Professor Philip Goodman (Andy Nyman), a man with a sideline in presenting a TV show exposing “Psychic Cheats”, and who is looking into the paranormal and mysterious apparitions. He gets his chance to meet one of his heroes, Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), who needs him to look into three particular cases which he was never able to resolve – Tony Matthews (Paul Whitehouse), who has a sick daughter, Simon Rifkind (Alex Lawther) – a young lad who doesn’t get on with his parents, and Mike Priddle (Martin Freeman) – who’s adjusting to life with a new child.
Andy Nyman is always a great watch (do check out Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set, if you haven’t seen that already), but everyone else is equally superb when it comes to the three case studies. In fact, do you know what it’s like when you’re a sane person and talking to three people who come across as being completely off their meds? That’s what it’s like for Philip.
With lots of things that go bump in the night (even the opening credits made me jump out of my seat!), add in stylish direction – from both Nyman and The League of Gentlemen‘s Jeremy Dyson – with cool camera angles, great use of lighting and mostly practical effects, and this is a hugely enjoyable 90+ minutes… and what does the endless succession of numbers mean?
Ghost Stories plays out like one of those classic ’70s Hammer Horror films with several stories brought into one film, and I do hope we get a follow-up movie with extra stories. Note that this also comes from Nyman and Dyson’s play of the same name, so I’d like to think there’s certainly scope for more.
The film is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and in 1080p high definition, and there’s no issues with the picture whatsoever. It looks stunning as you’d expect for a modern movie since it was shot digitally, and I was very impressed with the frequent, tight direction.
The audio is in Dolby HD-MA 5.1, and this is a great one to watch if you have a full 5.1 speaker set-up, and with a wonderful score.
The extras are as follows:
- The Making of Ghost Stories (13:03): Jeremy Dysonand Andy Nyman talk about the film, and how it came from their play, taking in the key locations and including chat from Martin Freeman, Alex Lawther, Paul Whitehouse and composer Frank Ilfman.
It’s just a pain that in this extra, they let the score drown out some of the interviews.
Nyman does add that he wants people to have been entertained by this, get some scares when you’re drunk, and to be moved by it, and while I saw it sober, it still achieves all three objectives.
- Recording Goodman’s theme (4:20): This shows the orchestra recording the theme, funnily enough.
- The Rorschach Test (7:25): You know when ink pictures are folded over and then you give your impression of what it’s meant to be? This is that, and very amusing as the cast give their answers.
- The Brain Sees What It Wants To See (3:44): Three errors were missed, even after the directors and the editors had watched the film hundreds of times in the post-production period. What were they? You’ll have to see this to find out.
I didn’t spot the errors, so watched this extra again.
I can only score what I receive and I generally just receive the disc, itself, as is the case, here, but if you buy the Blu-ray, it also includes a Reversible Sleeve, a Limited Edition alternative poster by Graham Humphreys, and a 16-page Booklet, including notes from the filmmakers on ‘The Making of Ghost Stories – From Stage to Screen’; quotes from the cast about their roles; fun facts about the film; Andy Nyman’s Top Ten Scary Movies and Jeremy Dyson’s Top Ten Ghost Stories.
The menu features a piece of the theme while showing stills of each character. Subtitles are in English only and there are a bog-standard 12 chapters.
Also available is the CD Soundtrack with Frank Ilfman’s evocative score.
Running time: 98 minutes
Released: August 27th 2018
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD-MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Disc Format: BD50
Directors: Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman
Producers: Robin Gutch and Claire Jones
Screenplay: Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman
Music: Frank Ilfman
Professor Goodman: Andy Nyman
Mike Priddle: Martin Freeman
Tony Matthews: Paul Whitehouse
Simon Rifkind: Alex Lawther
Woolly: Paul Warren
Father Emery: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Mark van Rhys: Nicholas Burns
Steph: Louise Atkins
BBC Local Newsreader: Lesley Harcourt
Esther Goodman: Amy Doyle
Mrs Goodman: Deborah Wastell
Mr Goodman: Daniel Hill
Beth Hooper: Christine Dalby
Jean Hooper: Maggie
Mr Rifkind: Joe Osborne
Mrs Rifkind: Maria Major
Esters’s Boyfriend: Ramzan
Headmaster: Benji Ming
Maria Priddle: Emily Carding
Charles Cameron: Leonard Byrne
Young Goodman: Samuel Bottomley
Kojak: Jake Davies
Nico Freer: Oliver Woollford
Marcus Perry: Callum Goulden
Peggy Van Rhys: Jill Halfpenny
Interviewee: Sarah Lancashire (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.