A Ghost Story: Instead of Boo! It’s Boo-Hoo
Who doesn’t love a scary ghost story? The paranormal possibility that our world is not our own, can be told in many different styles. Some make us jump, others make us think. A Ghost Story makes us think about existentialism, if you’re into that sort of thing. Fortunately for me, I am. And the trailer makes it very clear it’s not your typical horror show, but the title should have been, A Ghost’s Story. One apostrophe may seem simple, but it tells you everything you need to know.
This movie came out last year, but was cursed with the bad timing of the lead actor’s alleged sexual harassment claims. A Ghost Story takes a bleak look at death and what happens if you don’t go into the light. If you learn anything from this movie, please go into the light. After reluctantly agreeing to move out of the house that needs some TLC, struggling musician (Casey Affleck) dies in a car crash. And the dialogue dies with him. The ghost returns to the home and stands around. And around. And around.
I get that ghosts don’t talk much, but neither does his girlfriend, played by Rooney Mara. After she views Affleck’s dead body in the morgue, completely containing her emotions, Mara pulls the sheets over his head. After she leaves, Casey sits up, draped in heavy sheets, with two cut-outs for eyes. It’s wonderfully creepy, but can we even be sure it’s Casey Affleck under there?
There’s one really weird scene where the girlfriend comes home to find a pie, left by a women who had her own key to the house. The newly widowed-girlfriend is alone, grabs the pie, sits down on the ground, and eats almost the entire thing. And then she throws up. This is the first of many times you will say, “What the hell just happened?” It made me wonder, how did the director explain this scene to Rooney Mara. The following is my interpretation:
“Okay, Rooney, you’re beautiful. Here’s how this is going to go down. You come home to find a shepherd’s pie on the kitchen table with a note. You read the note, throw the note in the trash can, sit on the floor, and eat most of the pie. And this is what’s really special about the scene, no emotions or dialogue. It’s just you, a fork, and a pie. The only noise should be you stabbing the glass pie dish, over and over. But here’s the best part, when you’ve almost finished the pie, run to the bathroom and throw up. Never mind there’s a sink right above your head because you are sitting on the kitchen floor. Just put the pie down and run like hell to the bathroom. Casey’s ghost (stand-in) will slowly turn his head as you run by, but he won’t move. Hopefully we can get this done in one take, but if not, we have extra pie’s on hand.”
And scene. Finally some actually haunting takes place in the movie, but it doesn’t last long enough. More existentialism is thrown are way so we fully understand we are insignificant human beings. It’s not a long movie, only an hour and a half, but the overall theme is, life sucks and then you die.
But here’s the crazy thing. It’s been a few days and I’m still contemplating this damn movie. It clings to you like ectoplasm. There’s a strange beauty to this movie, and even though you are confused, you are sucked in by the quest for the ghost to end his perpetual loneliness. And you won’t be disappointed.
This movie is for a rainy day, what with it’s a bleak view of life in the afterlife. This isn’t a feel-good movie, but if you’re okay with uncomfortable messages about how we spend (or waste) our time, this could be a feel-somewhat good movie, for you.