Monday, February 5, 2018

A Ghost Story: A Review

As I began writing this article I decided to put on the film's score, written by Daniel Hart of Dark Rooms. Immediately I felt a deep shiver throughout my body, and remembered why it's taken me so long to write this review.

This movie makes you feel tremendously alone.

A Ghost Story is a horror tale unlike any other. It's not defined as something unsettling and macabre. In fact, most see it as a drama or romantic film. It does, however, tackle one of life's most unsettling frights. More on that later.

It's hard to write about A Ghost Story without giving anything away. It's a film that's so simple, so minimal in fact, that it's so easy to spoil the experience. Because of this, I really will err on the side of caution and not give too much away. Upon first glance, you see it as a drama, a romance between a couple madly in love. You don't know much about them, even the film itself gives you only their first initials; C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara). When the husband, C, passes in a car accident, M is left alone in their beautiful home, in the middle of nowhere, and grieves. C comes back to her, a ghost simply hovering in a white sheet. He stays there and watches her, through all her sadness and pain, until she eventually moves on, and new tenants move in. He remains as the new tenants come and go.

And come and go.

And come. And go.

Suddenly, a tremendous amount of time has passed and he's still there.

The house is replaced by a massive luxury condo and he's still there. Stuck in an everlasting limbo, constantly aching. Constantly waiting.

Director David Lowery does a great job at making a film involving a man cloaked under a sheet for the majority of it deliver such powerful emotions and raw feelings. A Ghost Story above all, is a film about transcendental loneliness. It urges you to feel something. The film isn't a horror, but it does achieve one of the most horrifying questions of afterlife: what if your loved one moved on from you? Worse, what if your loved one forgot about you?

We feel for C. Through his exaggerated motions, we suddenly ache for him. Because he's wearing a sheet, his thoughts and emotions are portrayed differently. The way he stands when he's sad, with his head bowed, fills you with sorrow. When he's frustrated and moves quickly, your adrenaline rises with him. When he's heartbroken, you feel that pain with him.

In combination with these emotions is the wonderful usage of cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo. Deciding to use a 4x3 aspect ratio, Palermo achieves a retro frame, one that we're not used to in modern films. We see the rounded edges of the frame, and this constricts us. The reason why this is so thematically relevant is because C, like us, is stuck in a box that he cannot get out of, thus making us feel for him more. It also brings a sense of intimacy, spying into someone else's life.

The last piece to this stunning symphony? The soundtrack that utterly shatters you. Written by Daniel Hart of Dark Rooms, it evokes a sadness and loneliness that some people have never themselves experienced. Like the track from the soundtrack, I Get Overwhelmed, you can't help but be overcome with emotion. To this day whenever I hear the song I get teary. What a powerful emotion to attach to a movie.

With all these magnificent elements that swirl together to create a masterpiece, Lowery achieves greatness. A lasting scene that haunts me involves two ghosts, both staring at each other from their respective houses that they dwell in. One asks the other who they wait for every day. The other responds that they simply don't remember; it's been too long. And that's it. That's what absolutely gets you. That in the afterlife there is no time, that things change and every day passes and the way people move on is natural, and something that you should come to expect.

I promise you this will end up breaking your heart.

Please watch A Ghost Story. I haven't seen a movie that has moved me so much in a really long time. It'll hand you clues to obvious interpretation; but don't take them. Make whatever you wish of the film, that is the main goal. 




  1. You've sold it to me now - going to rent it tonight. Can't wait to watch it :-)


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