Reviews - The Ghoul
Reviewed By Vaughan Ames
So what was it all about? 'The descent into madness' was the expression that came to my mind: we start by meeting Chris, a detective arriving at a murder scene where two people have been killed (though there is no sign of either bodies or blood). Chris soon wanders off to his real world: he is really a sufferer from clinical depression who likes to imagine he is a detective.
I was expecting the film to wander between these two realities, leaving us to guess which was real, but in fact we followed the 'real' Chris as he visited first one psychiatrist, then another, with occasional sights of his few friends between. Chris's problem was that the psychiatrists became part of his 'madness' as he began to believe they were trying to 'become immortal' at his expense.
There was much talk of 'Möbius strips' (a piece of twisted paper that only has one side and is, therefore, inescapable) which allowed us to see him moving inevitably down, as his friend Kathleen – who he was in love with without her knowing – raised his hopes and dashed them again; poor Chris had some hope of 'finding himself', only to be left one step closer to that dark, lonely place inside his head.
I liked the way the director used shots of London to signify his growing madness; first with random views of objects (cranes, buildings) and then, as Chris attempted to drive up the M1 to 'the North', swirling shots of road signs and lights showed him heading back South again: London had, itself, become a 'Möbius strip' which he could not escape. A strange, unusual film, then, but it had me gripped and fascinated by the portrayal of a very unhappy man; but those who didn’t enjoy might well describe it very differently!
We lightened the mood a lot at the end with a Norwegian short 'The Bald Man': a clever little film about a boy who comes home and tells his parents that he has just made out with a bald man. His mother is horrified ...because he is bald! What then follows is a sweet song and dance number showing how stupid we are to put down others who are different from us, whether they be gay, foreign...or just bald!
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Keswick Film Club won the Best New Film Society at the British Federation Of Film Societies awards in 2000.
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