• Ghoul, The



    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: September 12th, 2017.
    Director: Gareth Tunley
    Cast: Tom Meeten, Alice Lowie, Rufus Jones, Geoffrey McGivern, Dan Renton Skinner
    Year: 2016
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    The feature length directorial debut from Gareth Tunley, The Ghoul was executive produced by Ben Wheatley and arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Arrow Video, who has afforded this genuinely strange picture a proper special edition release.

    The main plot revolves around a man named Chris (Tom Meetan), a homicide shipped off to London to help out in the investigation of an unusual double murder. What makes this killing stand out is the fact that both victims, despite having been shot multiple times in the face and torso, seem to have continued to move towards the gunman after those shots were fired. Obviously, that’s not normal in cases like this.

    With help from an old flame named Kathleen (Alice Lowe), Chris manages to fake his way into a meeting with Helen Fisher (Niamh Cusack), the psychiatrist who treated the suspect. That suspect, Coulson (Rufus Jones)¸ the property manager of the building where this happened, has conveniently gone missing since the event took place. As Chris gets closer to the case, he decides to go undercover and seek treatment just as Coulson may have done, and in doing so he winds up meeting a second psychiatrist named Morland (Geoffrey McGivern) who has some very unorthodox ideas about his given occupation.

    What starts off as a police procedural soon morphs into something much stranger as Tunley’s film takes the ordinary and shifts it into a series of events that border on surrealism. By taking the story off of the streets of London and into the world of the mentally ill, the film insists that we see things differently, typically through the eyes of Chris as he becomes usurped by all of this. The Ghoul, despite its title, isn’t really a horror film, at least not in the traditional sense, though it does dabble in the macabre and at times, even the supernatural. Those looking for jump scares, strong gore or scary monsters might be left disappointed but anyone who can appreciate a genre picture made with care and clever attention to detail should appreciate what Tunley has created.

    The performances are strong across the board. Meetan plays his lead as a somewhat stereotypical disheveled cop, looking more than a little frumpy. He’s closer to Columbo than to Sonny Crockett, but he suits the part and we have no trouble buying him in the part. Alice Lowe as his former flame/current friend is also strong here. Geoffrey McGivern as the mysterious Morland is also really good here, taking a strange, interesting character and really making it his own.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Arrow Vide offers up The Ghoul on Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation that’s framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. As this was shot digitally there’s obviously no print damage to note or grain to discuss. Fine detail is pretty good while color reproduction is typically really nice as well, even if the movie makes use of a pretty bleak color scheme for the most part. The movie also benefits from good skin tones and solid black levels.

    The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is also fine. The surround channels are more frequently for the score more than anything else, but there are definitely some really cool moments where sound effects and dialogue come out of those rear channels quite nicely. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are fine. The score also has just the right amount of power behind it to ensure that it heightens the viewing experience without drowning out anyting it shouldn’t. Optional English subtitles are offered up here as well.

    Extras on this release begin with a commentary from Gareth Tunley, actor Tom Meeten and producer Jack Guttmann that proves pretty enjoyable. Lots of information in here as they three dissect the film, talk about its origins, the scripting of the picture, the casting of the film, the editing work, the locations and more. There’s a good sense of humor all through this talk, but it never gets too in-jokey and it remains engaging throughout.

    In The Loop is a thirty-six minute long featurette made up of interviews with Gareth Tunley, Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Geoff McGivern, Niamh Cusack, Rufus Jones, Dan Skinner, Ben Pritchard, Jack Guttmann, Waen Shepherd, Dhiraj Mahey and Ben Wheatley. This covers some of the same ground as the commentary but the focus here is on the film’s production history and how it got made. The additional participants involved in this piece make it worth checking out.

    Also included on the disc is The Baron, a 2013 short film by Gareth Tunley, starring Tom Meeten and Steve Oram. This piece runs nine and a half minutes and is available with or without commentary from Tunely. It’s interesting to see some of the same cast members from The Ghoul show up in this earlier work.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a theatrical trailer for the feature, animated menus and chapter selection. Included in the keepcase with the disc for the first pressing of this release is a full color insert booklet containing cast and crew info for the feature, production info for the Blu-ray release and an essay on the film by Adam Scovell, author of Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful And Things Strange.

    The Final Word:

    The Ghoul is much more of a psychological thriller than a straight up horror film, but it’s pretty solid stuff. Not for those looking for fast, cheap thrills it requires your utmost attention but the story is compelling, the performances uniformly strong and the presentation on this Blu-ray from Arrow quite impressive.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!