Wednesday, 2 August 2017

The Ghoul (2016)

Far from the lurid horror the name might suggest, The Ghoul is a complex, quirky, and paranoid, low budget British thriller with horror overtones, in the vein of co-star Alice Lowe's Prevenge and executive producer Ben Wheatley's Kill List.

I'm reluctant to say too much about the plot as part of the joy of the film is the unpredictable twists and turns it takes. It starts with homicide detective Chris (Tom Meeten) being brought in to investigate a bizarre murder in London where the victims have appeared to keep walking even when shot full of bullets. If that sounds in any way conventional or predictable, then rest assured, the story soon takes a leftfield swerve, and goes on to continually pull the rug from under the viewer, while all the time maintaining a paranoid internal logic that stops the film descending into irritating incoherent chaos.

The excellent cast is a massive asset. Tom Meeten is best known as comedy actor, having previously collaborated with Lowe, as well as appearing in TV shows such as Peep Show and Saxondale. Here, however he plays it totally straight and convincing, even when the audience starts to doubt what they are seeing. Geoffrey McGovern also deserves a mention as Chris's eccentric and sinister therapist, giving him a brilliant and necessary mix of charisma and menace.

Making his feature debut, writer and director Gareth Tunley does an excellent job of getting maximum results from minimum resources and making the surreal elements blend well with the urban grittiness, and druggy bedsit lifestyle of Chris's undercover alter ego. This thought provoking film stays in your mind long after the end credits, and is one that I suspect would reward repeat viewings.