BFI London Film Festival On The Big Screen Reviews

The Ghoul – Review

Filmmakers must hate it. Marketing must love it.

There’s a lot of feelings surrounding cinematic comparisons, especially when  they are screaming all over the posters and marketing materials.

Dark twisted thrillers? “This year’s American Psycho!”

Feel good film? “The most fun you’ll have since Bridget Jones!”

Crime films with a weird element? “Its just like Memento!” 

It’s exhausting having your own work lumped in with others but at the same time it gets folk through the door. Especially when you’ve tried hard to distance yourself, wishing that the film would be enough stumbling on its own feet. And, worse, if your audience has hefty expectations, then you are bound to disappoint.

So let’s be honest here: The Ghoul is definitely like Memento. But is it any good?

Image result for The Ghoul 2016
The British psychological thriller revolves around Chris, a detective investigating the murder of a couple who seemingly carried on walking after being shot multiple times. Tracking down the suspects home, he discovers a batch of clues that leads him to a psychotherapist. Going undercover as a patient, his trip into his own psyche is going to uncover dark secrets about himself….

There’s a lot of good happening with The Ghoul such as lead Tom Meeton excelling as a man struggle with his own mind. In his catatonic and disjointed states Meeton develops this hauntingly real character who is figuring out his emotions whilst similarly trying to solve a murder mystery. From our perspective, he is a trustworthy police officer with a few issues but as the movie progresses, you find that he not a solid protagonist and the shift in states is greatly done through the character. Alice Lowe appears as a romantic interest and she does well enough within the narrative but isn’t used as often as she should’ve been.

Image result for The Ghoul 2016
But my God, the storyline is a jumble for so many different elements that I’m actually struggling to figure out what the hell was going on. Directed by Ben Wheatley alum Gareth Tunley (with some clear interpretations of Kill List,), this jumble of elements really jars in places. Are you trying to be a meditation on mental illness and how easily manipulated victims are? Why are you throwing in these elements of Was there actually a murder? (Woops, kind of a spoiler.) All these moments deform the overall enjoyment of the film as you wonder…why? What is the substance we should be focusing on here?

Perhaps the lack of clarity and focus on ambiguity helps some film fellows interpret the film and I am certainly not knocking unravelling vagueness of movies such as these. But with The Ghoul, it seems to lack the meat to carry on the delicious unravelling mystery and that is really where it falters. It’s disappointing because with a  clearer meaning, the movie could’ve exceeded.

The Ghoul is out 4th August 

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