It’s somewhat surprising that a movie with the title A Ghost Story doesn’t even attempt to be traditionally scary, but David Lowery’s latest directorial effort manages to evoke a different kind of fear in a totally unique way. An analysis of grief and human beings’ refusal to move on from tragedy, the film finds M (Rooney Mara) struggling to come to terms with the death of her lover, C (Casey Affleck). But when C returns as a ghost whom M cannot detect, he is forced to watch her attempts to move on without him in truly heartbreaking fashion.
Utilizing incredibly long takes and minuscule amounts of dialogue, A Ghost Story moves along at an incredibly slow pace. But because the film is more interested in analyzing small moments of life as opposed to an individual story, these filmmaking techniques actually work quite well. Framed in 1.33:1 and shot with a warm haziness, A Ghost Story feels like old home videos at times. There’s an unusually pleasant vibe to the film in that respect, given that its subject matter is pretty heavy.
Those looking for a traditional horror movie or a story-driven film will likely be disappointed with this one, but for the open-minded, there’s a lot to enjoy about A Ghost Story. Lowery tries a lot of new things and takes a lot of bold chances here, and cinephiles have to appreciate his willingness to break the mold and try something new. It may be slow, but it’s definitely not boring.
The Blu-ray release looks and sounds incredible, and features a surprising amount of bonus content. An audio commentary track with David Lowery, cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo, production designer Jade Healy, and composer Daniel Hart find the filmmakers breaking down the production. Also included is a brief interview with Daniel Hart on the film’s unique and strangely uplifting score. Hart’s band Dark Rooms performs the song “I Get Overwhelmed,” which plays an important part in the film’s narrative, and his explanation of how that individual song helped create much of the overall score is fascinating.
The highlight of the release is certainly A Ghost Story and the Inevitable Passing of Time — a unique featurette that finds the creative team discussing the production whilst in the middle of a seance. It’s a fun roundtable with a unique twist, and it’s always nice to see filmmakers going the extra mile to make these kinds of bonus features more special. A deleted scene that follows C as he brews and drinks a cup of coffee before his inevitable death rounds out the disc.
Bottom line: A Ghost Story is an extremely strange movie that most certainly isn’t for everyone, but for cinephiles looking for a different kind of ghost story, this one is most certainly worth a spin. At the very least, you’re guaranteed to find it visually stimulating due to the bold cinematography of Palermo.
A Ghost Story arrives on Blu-ray and DVD October 3rd.