Sunday, 16 May 2010

Guerillas In The Mist [Review: Urban Ghost Story]

Urban Ghost Story is directed by Genevieve Jolliffe and produced by Chris Jones, authors of the Guerilla Film-Maker's guidebooks. Nine years before Paranormal Activity, this film brought the ghost story into a downbeat setting: Glasgow, a block of flats, complete with poverty, loan sharks, drug use and teenage pregnancies, and it brought the paranormal together with real-life menace to create a tense, creepy atmosphere.

The ghost story element is intelligent and non-patronizing - possible explanations for the entity are presented by characters we don't quite trust so there is no glib solution to the mystery, and in any case it's really a film about trauma. The heroine, Lizzie, has survived a car crash in which her best friend died, but is traumatized over and over again by the crash itself, the mysterious happenings that follow it, and then by the various responses from the police and social services, the spiritualists who terrorize her and the para-scientists who tie her to her bed for one more experiment.

This is an awesome film which I would recommend to anyone, with a great story and a lot to say about trauma. It has a strong cast, headed by child actress Heather Ann Foster who plays Lizzie perfectly, and has a memorable look: it's filmed in drab blues and greens that perfectly convey the mood of despair and fear, offset by the bright colours of the goldfish, a symbol of Lizzie's dilemma that appears throughout the film.

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