Written By Bryan Kluger:
Fresh off the wings of his most commercial movie to date, Pete’s Dragon (2016), Director David Lowery floats back to his Indie roots with the dreamy fantasy drama, ‘A Ghost Story.’ This ponderous portrait of life, loss and existence will undoubtedly make art enthusiasts coo over its alluring framework and vision, but for those anticipating an intensely haunting experience, be prepared for more mood than material. Time is of the essence in this story; the right state of mind and patience will reward you, that is, if you’re still alert before the leisurely picture reaches its point.
This mysterious film opens with an aloof couple, M (Rooney Mara) and C (Casey Affleck), cuddling on a couch in the late hours of the night, both discussing their anxieties about their upcoming move. M reveals she’s lived several places as a child, coping by always hiding small notes here and there. “They’re just things I wanted to remember,” M whispers to C, “so that if I ever wanted to go back, there’d be a piece of me there waiting.” Initially this seems like insignificant conversation, but after C tragically loses his life, then returns as a white-sheeted ghost to try and connect with his grieving wife, we discover this “piece” of M might hold more of the puzzle in place than we thought.
Told almost solely from the silent perspective of a trapped spirit, ‘A Ghost Story’ dawdles as it attempts to trickily answer the philosophical question of being and showcase the agonizingly slow passage of time. With scarce narrative, the movie gambles on an unusual slideshow of ghostly imagery, and it’s not until a drunken house guest shares his ideology on humanity that the true answers begin to unfold.
Hypnotizing you into a trance, whether it is a slumber or spell, ‘A Ghost Story‘ requires a certain kind of insight. Though intelligent, it’s frustratingly dreary, and though gorgeous, it’s tediously sluggish. It’s one of those films that delivers clarity and earns your respect in hindsight. It will plant a seed in the mind, anticipating expansion, and once the plant grows, you’re left reflecting on all of the elements and the subtle brilliance of everything.
‘A Ghost Story‘ is a peculiar delicacy that boggles the brain and challenges cinematic convention. Beneath the minimalistic surface lies an original ode to a more complex question of what it means to be alive.
The Video: ‘A Ghost Story‘ comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Most of the has a somewhat cooler look to its color palette. It’s not a warm feeling, nor a warm looking movie. Don’t expect bright oranges, reds, or yellows here. Instead, you’ll be treated to a decaying spectrum of greens, blues, browns, or other earthier tones throughout. With that being said, these colors do look great and keep the style and look of the film quite well.
Detail is sharp and vivid, especially in closeups that reveal wrinkles, pores, and makeup effects. Let’s talk about the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which gives the film it’s full frame look, complete with rounded ages. This all keeps the tone in tact with the slow burn horror and home-video like experience. Black levels are deep an inky and the skin tones are natural There were no major issues with banding or aliasing here, leaving this video presentation with good marks.
The Audio: This release comes with a great lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that is simple, yet very effective. Don’t expect a slasher type of soundtrack here. Everything is very subdued, but has some fantastic crescendos to keep you on your feet. There’s not a ton of dialogue here either, so the mix relies on the haunting score to tell a lot of the story and get us into the next scene.
Sound effects are realistic and loud with ambient noises sounding eerie. Dialogue is always clear and easy to follow along with and free of pops, cracks, hiss, and shrills. There is a great heft with the bass here that never over stays it’s welcome, but creeps up quite often.
Audio Commentary – Director David Lowery, Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo, Production Designer Jade Healy, and Composer Daniel Hart all deliver a good and informative commentary track that discusses the themes of the film, casting, characters arcs, shooting on location, the music, and more.
A Ghost Story and the Inevitable Passing of Time (HD, 30 Mins.) – This is a roundtable with the cast and crew in a haunted location as they talk more about making the film and the costume designs.
A Composer’s Story (HD, 5 Mins.) – The composer of the film talks about how he crafted the score of the film.
Deleted Scene (HD, 6 Mins.) – A cool deleted scene that features Casey Affleck.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
‘A Ghost Story‘ is definitely not your typical horror film. It doesn’t rely on scare tactics or cheap horror. It’s a slow-burn think piece about life and death. Who would of thought that a simple bed sheet with eye holes could be so haunting. Great performances and a great score make this horror film an original. Video and audio presentations are both good and the extras are worth watching if you’re a fan of the film.