FrightFest review – The Ghost Writer (2022)
Gilliger Graham (Luke Mably), a writer of whodunits, isn’t as successful as his late, much-acclaimed novelist father Irwin (Robert Portal). In a funk of writer’s block and booze, he travels to his father’s abandoned cottage deep in the country – and is bothered by a couple of perhaps-ghosts, temptress/muse/irritant Jane (Andrea Deck) and her violent husband Patrick (Brendan Patricks). He also finds a manuscript concealed in the sink pipe which might be his father’s final work, and decides either to plagiarise it or live out its story … which involves a masked axeman, a shotgun, an estate agent/big Irwin fan (Matthew Jure), a lot of pages torn out of a typewriter and scrunched up to be tossed at the fire, and perhaps another go-round with the forces that led to Irwin’s death.
Directed by Paul Wilkins, who also co-wrote with Guy Fee, this has a nice setting and some decent playing – Deck especially is sparkling and scary as the mercurial minx – but gets bogged down in the clichés that often turn up in films about writers struggling with block. Evoking the exploitation classic Exposé and the Britfilm art classic Morvern Caller in one key plot-point, it doesn’t really go through with its Daddy Issues business and has one of those plots where the sins of the father/haunts of the past keep nudging the protagonist deeper into misery. We get revelations, but they’re all provisional and curiously weightless. It has a nice, washed-out, greyish-green bleak countryside look.
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