When’s the last time you watched a drama and it was more terrifying than a horror movie? A Ghost Story manages to provoke almost every emotion you can think of. But don’t be misled. It is NOT a horror movie. It is just haunting because of how Director David Lowery conveys certain death, loneliness, and time. It is more of poem than a film. The simplistic nature of A Ghost Story is executed beautifully to make it one of the most thought-provoking films of 2017. You’ve never seen anything like it.
In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.
This movie isn’t for everyone. The first 30 minutes really tests the patience of the audience. A Ghost Story is very slow burning, particularly in the first act. C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara) are a couple living in this quiet and secluded house. The first few scenes are relationship and character building between them. From the beginning, you get the feeling that the house has a lot of history and meaning. C tragically dies in a car accident early in the film. After M leaves him in the hospital, he comes back in ghost form and returns to their home. After the ghost returns home, that’s where the movie’s main theme comes into play: Time. And oh boy, is it executed well. You witness M carrying on with her life and trying to move on, and the ghost is there watching her. With no words to speak, he simply watches her live her life and eventually move out of their house and new people move in over the years. I had sympathy for the ghost as I witnessed his vast loneliness unfold.
What makes A Ghost Story actually terrifying is the lonely feeling of time passing by after death. One of the most asked questions of all time is what happens after you die? A Ghost Story explores the magnitude of life. The way Lowrey’s vision is executed in this film makes it seem plausible that this is what happens after you die. One of the scariest parts is that there is literally nothing you can do. You watch you loved one find someone new. You watch them move on. All you can do is watch. The way this is expressed in A Ghost Story is truly heartbreaking and mesmerising at the same time.
Without spoiling too much, the second act deals with various different eras, some of which the ghost never expected to see when he returned home. You see families moving in and out, people throwing parties and having discussions about time and religion. As the movie progresses, the house becomes a character of its own. A very important one I might add. It really indicates what we leave behind and the impressions we leave on each other throughout time. Going into A Ghost Story, I did not expect Lowrey’s vision to be executed so beautifully that a house could have so much meaning. It is truly unique.
The movie feels much like a poem because there is very little dialogue in it. That being said, there are no pacing issues. The concept is so interesting that you’re just along for the journey. Another thing that helps this is the original score. A Ghost Story has one of the best scores of the year, hands down. It evokes sadness with every melody. Hopefully The Academy doesn’t overlook it, because it is Oscar Nomination worthy.
The more I thought about A Ghost Story, the more I loved it. Taking something as familiar as a sheet with eyes cut out and turning into a symbol for death, the afterlife, and time was an absolutely brilliant idea. Lowrey’s vision was beautiful and Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara had strong performances. Like I said earlier, this movie is not for everybody. Don’t go into it expecting a horror movie. There are surprises around every turn, and the last 20 minutes are truly astonishing. Go check it out in theaters.