Let me get straight to the point with this review. I watched Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of The Ghoul, and I’ll be frank with you, I have no idea what the hell happened in the movie. The plot summary that you can read everywhere makes you think the film is going to be a straightforward detective thriller, but that ain’t what the movie is about at all. Far from it, folks, far from it.
From executive producer Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Free Fire) comes a mind-bending British psychological thriller to sit alongside such classics of the genre as Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell’s Performance, David Lynch’s Lost Highway and Christopher Nolan’s Following. Chris is a homicide detective called to London to investigate a strange double murder. Both victims appear to have continued moving towards their assailant despite multiple gunshots to the face and chest. On a hunch, and with the help of an old colleague – and former girlfriend – Chris decides to go undercover as a patient to investigate the suspect’s psychotherapist, the mysterious Alexander Morland, who has a taste for the occult… The debut feature of writer-director Gareth Tunley, starring Tom Meeten (Sightseers), Alice Lowe (Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) and Dan Renton Skinner (Notes on Blindness), The Ghoul is the latest standout addition to a thriving new wave of British cinema.
I honestly can’t describe much of the plot of The Ghoul without giving away certain plot details and twists and turns. However, even if I did try to explain the plot; I probably would do a piss poor job of it anyway. From what I can surmise from the film, we follow Chris (Tom Meeten) who is investigating a double murder and goes undercover as a patient to the murderer’s therapist, but really, that isn’t what the movie is about at all.
Part of me liked The Ghoul, a lot exactly, but another part didn’t enjoy it. I felt it was slow at times and confusing. There isn’t a coherently structured plot like most films, which is going to put plenty of people off. It put me off at first, seeing how I thought this movie was going to be one thing and then it turned out to be something completely out there and weird. Still, as the film rolled on, I felt it gripping me tighter, and I was glued to screen to the end credits.
The Ghoul benefits immensely from Tom Meeten’s emotionally unstable portrayal of Chris. If it weren’t for him, the film wouldn’t hold up. The film follows his character so closely, barely giving other actors a chance to do anything.
Arrow Video has been kind with the release of The Ghoul, providing a solid Blu-ray release. The transfer was handled by the film company and provided to Arrow. There are some issues with shadows becoming blocky, but it doesn’t happen often. For the most part, the video is watchable. Also supplied is a 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack which doesn’t go crazy with the rear channel use. In fact, I don’t remember much rear use at all.
Special features provided are an extensive look at the making of The Ghoul with plenty of interviews with the cast and crew. If you want to know more about the film, which you most likely will, this is a great feature to check out. Also provided is a short film from director Gareth Tunley, which is pretty enjoyable and provides a few solid laughs. Rounding everything out is a trailer and of course, a fancy booklet with writing from Adam Scovell, author of Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange.
The Ghoul warrants a few repeat viewings to understand what the hell is going on completely, and even then you might still be confused. It’s a twisty film that doesn’t follow the typical structure of storytelling, and you will find yourself scratching your head until it’s raw. The Arrow Video Blu-ray provides a few answers with its features and a reliable watching experience with the audio and video presentation. If you enjoy a film that will screw with your noggin, The Ghoul is one flick worth checking out.
Blu-ray Special Features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original uncompressed 5.1 audio
- Optional English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing
- Filmmakers’ commentary
- Interviews with the cast and crew
- The Baron, a 2013 short film by Gareth Tunley, starring Tom Meeten and Steve Oram (Aaaaaaaah!, Sightseers)
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Adam Scovell, author of Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange