Going On A Psychological Journey
♦Tripwire’s Senior Editor ANDREW COLMAN takes a look at British indie film The Ghoul, out now…
Director: Gareth Tunley
Stars: Tom Meeten, Rufus Jones
First time director Gareth Tunley’s feature about an obsessive, unstable man who may or may not be a police detective is a clever little tale whose tropes may be quite familiar but is still a rewarding effort. Tom Meeten stars as Chris, the unreliable protagonist, initially playing a police detective who goes undercover to investigate a double murder. As the narrative unfolds, it’s clear that he is a fantasist who has blurred reality and his own private fiction. His visits to two psychiatrists are the core of the film – are they malefactors acting as the engine of his circular fate, or victims in his carefully orchestrated shadowplay?
We’ve been down this ambiguous road before, where cryptic lines of dialogue signpost the narrative, buffeting the hapless lead from one dead end to another – Memento and Shutter Island spring to mind. What lifts the film (after a somewhat sluggish start) is the arrival of Rufus Jones as Michael Coulson, a fellow psychiatric patient, and Geoffrey McGivern as Alexander Morland, an overbearingly brash analyst with a roomful of enigmatic, mystical objects that are of course contextually highly symbolic. Also on hand is Alice Lowe as Kathleen, measured and understated in her role as romantic interest, enabler and plot device.
Although a slight film made on an obviously modest budget, Tunley’s project does create its own little universe – hermetic perhaps, but compelling and at times compulsive. Although the drama doesn’t ratchet up that much towards the denouement, Tom Meeten’s authentically troubled performance, coupled with the increasingly claustrophobic direction, provide a satisfying, if predictable, conclusion. The dissonant score does at times become intrusive, as do the bleak cityscapes that punctuate the story – it’s well-worn territory, but done with sufficient panache that the viewer, like Meeten’s damaged Chris, is kept off balance. A worthwhile journey into the psychological vortex and a moody piece of British noir that deserves investigation.
The Ghoul is out now in UK cinemas