GHOST STORIES is a film I am desperate to see – a return of the British Horror Anthology! Three short horror stories starring Martin Freeman and Alex Lawther (and more) – two of my favourite actors. And just look at the posters – the artwork is epic – I want them!!! GHOST STORIES is playing now at the Sydney Film Festival – it has one screening left on Tuesday night. I was booked for all the screenings already so Kernel Jack took my ticket (thanks Jack). Enjoy his review for Salty.

GHOST STORIES is being held by ICON in Australia and I am certain it will get a release. It runs for 96mins and while not officially rated yet I am assuming it will get an MA15+ rating. Get your last minute tickets to this Tuesday’s screening HERE!


A big issue I have with anthology films is that, more often than not, there’s a noticeable variance in quality. You get great films followed by mediocre films followed by great films, which doesn’t make the overall experience all that memorable. I enjoy the V/H/S movies, but even then, I guarantee I can’t name every short film they consisted of. I think there was one where a penis ate people, but god, I hope I’m mistaken. GHOST STORIES manages to change things up. This isn’t your average horror anthology. Not everything lands, but it’s an anthology with a clear vision, and because of that, it works.


We follow the story of famed paranormal skeptic Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman). In all his years of work, he’s managed to disprove and debunk countless cases of fraud, but when we first catch up with him, he’s stumbled upon the unsolvable. He’s uncovered three indisputable cases of hauntings, and as he tries to unravel their deeper secrets, the terrifying truths begin to arise. He investigates Tony Matthews’ (Paul Whitehouse) unsettling asylum encounter, Simon Rifkind’s (Alex Lawther) demonic drive home, and Mike Priddle’s (Martin Freeman) terrifying poltergeist, each film building towards a terrifying finale.


Ghost Stories Movie Poster image
Ghost Stories Movie Poster



The core, present day story of Professor Goodman binds these narratives together, intercut between the shorts. It’s… fine. For the most part, Goodman’s story is somewhat of a drag. You don’t know a lot about him, so there’s very little to care about. It’s not until the film’s biggest plot twist comes into play that you really start to feel for the guy. This isn’t the film you’d expect coming in, and once everything wrapped, I was ashamed at myself for not seeing it coming, yet it works so well. British actor Andy Nyman, who’s also the co-director, does a brilliant job.


In fact, it’s the directing that’s the real star of the show. Nyman and co-director Jeremy Dyson do a fantastically eerie job at creating a genuinely suspenseful, oddly humorous chronicle of terror. The sets are wonderfully over the top, but it works. A story set in an abandoned asylum was particularly unnerving, even if it builds towards a lacklustre and predictable conclusion. Horror is driven by the buildup. It’s all about the fear of what’s coming. In that instance, my fear of what’s coming far exceeded the fear of what actually came, so the result is underwhelming.


Ghost Stories Movie Poster image
Ghost Stories Movie Poster



The Alex Lawther led second film is a bit of a mixed bag. Lawther, who’s fantastic in hit Netflix show IT’S THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD, overacts, and the script here feels undercooked. It’s not scary. Instead, it’s unusually funny, making it entertaining but in all the wrong ways. And the less said about the third story the better. It’s short and sweet, with an incredible unbroken tracking shot, but plays heavily into the film’s biggest ideas, and this final twist put the entire film into a new perspective. I loved what they did, even if the execution could use a tad more subtlety.

But the only problem I do have with the final twist is that it makes everything else, in the moment, feels a little bit melodramatic. All gets explained in the long run, but when watching it, these are constantly described as “unsolvable cases.” Yet they’re not. They’re all three dudes, alone, with nobody to prove or disprove what they’re saying. There’s never any game changing evidence to explain what’s going on, nor key witnesses to give validation to the stories. It’s hard to explain how I feel I could improve this without giving away major spoilers, but there are definitely ways it could’ve been fixed. And they’re very easy tweaks.


Ghost Stories Movie Poster image
Ghost Stories Movie Poster



GHOST STORIES works better as a fascinating character study (or even dark comedy?) than it does as a horror movie, but I enjoyed it. There are some glaring issues spread throughout, but audiences after a tamer horror experience coming off the heels of the monumentally fucked HEREDITARY will definitely find a lot to enjoy in this creepy British horror film.





When he’s not spending an embarrassing amount of hours browsing through Netflix, Jack Dignan dedicates his time to reviewing movies of all genres and languages. He has done so since 2012. He also maintains a website of his own – – and ever since their interview, he’s been best friends with Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino just doesn’t know it yet. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.