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Review: 'Ghost Stories'

A professor is given three unexplained haunting cases to investigate and make sense of.

British horror is a sub-genre that has certainly had its shining moments. I consider that to be in the 60s—particularly the Hammer Horror films.

I rather enjoyed the classic British horror films, and I was intrigued to see this particular new release as the trailer suggested a classic horror feel to it, both in its look and story.

Now that I've seen the film, it definitely has a Hammer Horror vibe to it as well as something from The Twilight Zone. From the start, you can tell that something is off and it makes the viewing experience mildly unsettling.

I liked how much of it is more psychological horror as well as dropping in some of the jump scares you would expect. It does rely on those horror tropes, but I never felt them to be generic compared to many other horror films. The execution felt pretty strong to me and kept me gripped with the story.

You can tell the people making this are big fans of classic British horror, and are using those jump scares to virtually pay homage to that style.

The chapter structure may make the story a little repetitive, but by the time the final act arrives, it is a real "pulling the rug from underneath you" job, and I liked that it never fully explains itself as well. So you can have a fun discussion with your friends after watching it.

I really liked all the performances. They all really sell their respective characters and were a huge factor into making this a very enjoyable watch. Co-director Andy Nyman also plays the leading role, and I felt he did a great job of effectively playing the audience as we try and work out these strange situations that are happening.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Paul Whitehouse take up a non-comedic role. It turned up to work really well and was great in his section of the story. Maybe this is a calling card to another career to add to his already glittering career?

The star of the show for me was young Alex Lawther. I remember first seeing him in The Imitation Game as well as X+Y, and you could see a true star in the making. His contribution in this feature just proves once again how great of a talent he is. The intensity and insanity he brought to his character was great to watch.

While Martin Freeman's performance was not the type you usually see in a horror, there was a subtle amount of creepiness to it to enhance your speculation of something not feeling right. I think it was to do with certain mannerisms he gave his character.

The cinematography by Ole Bratt Birkeland was noticeably good. I always like it when the camera is almost teasing you when it is only letting you see certain things that you want to see more of, and the camera work does a lot of that.

I don't really have any notable negatives to mention. But that does not mean that it is a perfect film. The rest of the film's score is relied on personal preferences.

The story was not rich enough to be considered as one of the year's best, in my opinion, and using generic horror tropes does not give that much originality. I know that being different was not the point of the film, but my personal preferences to certain things prevents me from giving it an extremely high score.

So while horror is a genre I usually find not as much success with compared to other genres, I rather enjoyed this. The whole viewing experience was unsettling, the performances were memorable, and most importantly, it has a strong pay-off to give it that extra edge in giving this an exceptional rating.

I think this is the type of horror film that can be accessible to all fans, rather than just people like the horror genre.

Rating: 8/10

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Review: 'Ghost Stories'
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