Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman bring their stage play to the screen with Ghost Stories, an anthology-like tale of the supernatural that stitches three cases of unexplained terror together in a way that’s never flashy or over-the-top. It springs to life in a funhouse of horrors kind of way that leans into some great jump scares and moody atmosphere that I think horror fans (new and old) are going to eat up. In this one, Professor Phillip Goodman embarks upon a terror-filled quest when he stumbles across a long-lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’.
Although the film is centered around three separate stories, they become part of a larger narrative that makes Ghost Stories feel less like an anthology and more like it’s own unique thing. Still, the film finds itself struggling in a lot of the same ways that an anthology does. Not one of its three stories has much to say, and they lack that one thing that makes a story… a story: a beginning, middle, and end. Of course, a lot of that has to do with how lean the film is in general—Dyson and Nyman make up for its narrative shortcomings in a different and spooky kind of way. So while there’s not a lot to chew on here, Ghost Stories instead is a more streamlined, in-your-face kind of haunter that utilizes some fun jump scares and plenty of creepy tension.
In a way, Dyson and Nyman built a haunted house in a phone booth—there isn’t much room for its characters or their stories, but it’s always surrounded by some great horror. And a big reason why it works here is because, dare I say, the use of some fantastic jump scares. While they’re often seen as a gimmick (and that’s usually true), good filmmakers use them as a way to heighten the impact of the eventual payoff. And really, when you’re telling short stories, sometimes jump scares are the best way to get under the audience’s skin.
That just about sums it up for me. Ghost Stories is a skin-crawling midnighter that outta please most people—there’s a little bit of everything for everyone, including a wonderful nod to Sam Raimi’s famous Evil Dead POV shot. And look, you may not be getting something you’ve never seen before (as far as the scares go), but it’s still a fun shot to the arm to those of you who like spooky short stories. And one more thing—the way the film ties its three stories so neatly into the final act was a clever little touch that Dyson and Nyman executed wonderfully; it begs to be watched again and again.