Ghost Stories15¦ Blu-ray, DVD
Maybe it’s the mist-covered moors, chilly castle corridors, or Yvette Fielding’s face through night vision cameras on Most Haunted, the UK loves a ghostly sight.
With such a rich vein of spooky goings on over the years, it’s no wonder then that we like a good fright. And building on the tradition of the house that Hammer built, comes this archetypal British anthology of spooky tales that attempts to give audience an equal share of both heebies and jeebies.
It’s no surprise that Professor Goodman (Andy Nyman) is sceptical regarding paranormal activity, considering his day job; he presents a TV show that debunks the abilities of so-called psychics, who use underhand tactics to take advantage of vulnerable people.
He is surprised however, when one day a parcel arrives for him, containing a photocopied print of the front of that day’s newspaper, and an audio tape. He plays it, only to find it’s a message from Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), an eminent paranormal investigator, who he happened to respect, who has been missing for several years.
Goodman follows the instructions given to him, and ends up in a caravan by the coast, where he meets the frail Cameron.
The reason he’s been asked for is that Cameron has three cases, which even he can’t explain, that he wants Goodman to investigate. Goodman’s curiosity gets the better of him and so agrees. One by one he delves into these troubling cases, completely unaware that there’s more going on with them than he realises.
Having started life as a stage play that premiered in Liverpool in 2010, it must have seemed like the next logical step for creators Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman to take it to the big screen. And to keep their vision intact, not only did the pair direct it, but Nyman reprises his stage role too as Prof Goodman.
The result is a competent chiller, with a number of genuine scares to its credit. The spook-o-meter does go a little flat towards its finale however, where it concentrates too much on plot over jump-out-of-your-seat set pieces.
You can tell that it would have worked well in a theatre setting, where the atmosphere would have undoubtedly hung heavy in an intimate auditorium, but it just loses its edge scaled up for the big screen.
Still, the cast, including Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse (sans fishing rod), give their creepy best and although it’s not exactly a full on fright-fest, it’s a highly credible addition to the British collection of the macabre.