A Ghost Story

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That my review of A Ghost Story should come with the caveat that even after watching it from start to finish I find myself bewildered by both its beauty and its meaning should tell you all you need to know to have you rushing away to watch it, for three days later scenes from this astonishing film keep haunting me and my whole family cannot help but to keep on dissecting those parts of it that keep gripping us by the wrists.

Though it may not seem very Brocante at all, I am a huge fan of the horror genre with a particular yearning for a decent haunted house tale. I like the ambiguous. The not fully told story of what went before. The relationship between those inside the house and what the house itself has written in its walls. I like being scared. Tension keeping me stone still on the sofa. I like the guessing game that is just how scared I can be before I have to break the tension by accidentally smacking she who is sitting next to me in sheer jumpy fright or by asking the kind of ludicrous, irrelevant question that has Ste shaking his head in despair.

But it is rare that any of these films are suitable for a family film night and rarer still that they should prompt the kind of discussion that feels important. But then came A Ghost Story. A disturbing, slow descent into the kind of paralysis apparently peculiar to those tied to a building after death, tortured by time and utterly unable to do more than observe that they yearn to be a part of.

The things you need to know before you watch it? That one of the characters spends almost all of the film under a white sheet, in the most generic depiction of a ghost seen since the early days of Scooby Doo. But there are no cheap thrills, laughs or even spooky, jumpy moments to be had here. Rather we endure the harrowing vision of ghost as spectator. His absolute stillness beyond devastating and displayed with more expression to be had in the two eye holes cut into his mortuary sheet than many actors manage in their entire acting careers.

Obviously I don’t want to spoil any of this odd film because I want you to experience it for yourself, but there are so many questions left unanswered by it that I don’t think spoiling it would be possible. You will not have seen anything like it before. You will never have endured what it is to watch somebody eat a pie for almost seven minutes watched silently by a presence in a white sheet. You will question whether the directors depiction of the demise of a ghost itself could be true. And you will look in to the corner of every room and wonder if there is such a presence watching you too. It is weird, slow, mad and deeply sad.

This and so much more. Great big, heart-wrenching, life-changing questions. An ending that is so unbearably sad and begs so very many questions of its own. Memories of the film thereafter that will lead to one conversation after another with those you watch it with. Questions that will have you doubting whatever it is you believe about life after death and having you feeling more emotion for something you do not necessarily believe in until you can barely make sense of it.

While it very definitely isn’t a popcorn and soda kind of film, it was a whole family experience I would not have missed. Finley treated us to a running commentary of each scene, working out the truth out loud as he went long before us adults did. Stevie stayed silent, only the next day searching the internet for answers, while Ste talked it through with him.

And I? I have sat it with it for a day or so. Let it fester. Let its hauntingly beautiful stills flutter through my head whenever my own world has slowed. And wondered so very, very often what was on that piece of paper. 

Do watch it if you can. Even if you hate it, you will never, ever forget it. 

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  1. Gayla J Pappenfoht says:

    So sorry, I. just. cant. Love you though… Does that count?

    1. Alison Author says:

      More than you would know Darling Gayla! To be fair my Dad and sister watched it too and hated it… I feel to blame for forcing it upon them. And having deeply odd taste in films!xx

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