Dir. David Lowery; Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck; USA 2017, 87 min.
David Lowery is re-united with Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck of Ain’t Those Bodies Saints fame for this patchwork piece of paranormal fantasy that attempts a nostalgic revival of the the time when ghost stories were free of today’s sensational stunts.
It opens with a Virginia Wolf quote “Whatever hours you wake, there was a door closing”, Mara and Affleck play an unnamed couple arguing about moving house: she is keen to get away from their semi-rural Texas backwater to somewhere less remote. But the sudden death of her songwriter husband, in a car accident, throws the proceedings into a long goodbye. After Mara has viewed the body in the hospital morgue, Affleck suddenly rises from the gurney, and dressed in a white sheet with cut-outs for the eyes, leaves the hospital and observes her covertly from afar. The first signs of paranormal activity occur when she angers his ghoul by bringing another man back home. Later, when Mara has left the house to a Spanish family, the ghastly spirit makes plates fly and demolishes a table. From a neighbouring house, another ghost waves to Affleck, before the house falls into a state of disrepair and is torn down. We go through a future period when Affleck watches the urbanisation of the rural area, before the story turns back to the first settlers.
There are more questions than answers here, and whilst DoPGregory Crewdson creates an impressively spooky and atmosphere feel, shooting in an unusual format of 1.33:1, with round edges, like in old home movies, the overall impression is underwhelming. This ghost story is tame, rather than gripping; a poor of version of Park Chan-wook masterpieces. AS
SUNDANCE LONDON | 1-4 JUNE 2017