This Ben Wheatley-produced psychological thriller may wear its low budget on its sleeve, but it also weaves a compellingly disorientating yarn bolstered by a solid cast and ambitious direction from Gareth Tunley.
Police detective Chris (Tom Meeten) is investigating a bizarre double murder when we first meet him, and in order to obtain some crucial psych records, he goes undercover as a patient, only for the rabbit hole to become progressively deeper from there. Saying anything more than that about The Ghoul’s twisty narrative wouldn’t be fair or wise.
Smartly melding crime tropes and a distinctly Lynchian, often dreamlike style, Tunley’s film is nothing if not unique, and though his reach often exceeds his grasp, it’s hard not to at least admire the mileage he’s gotten out of an evident shoestring budget, shot with fairly unfussed cinematography and featuring a cast filled up with Tunley’s pals (who just so happen to be the talented likes of Alice Lowe and Paul Kaye, the latter basically doing his best “Gary Oldman in True Romance” impression to highly entertaining effect).
The centerpiece is Meeten, an on-the-rise Brit actor whose character begs a performer of real nuance and substance, a charge he rises to with a high degree of success. He’s the ever-present core of the movie, and given the often tricksy nature of the premise, is required to give a deep, multi-faceted rendition.
There are moments where the film does truly feel all over the place and you may not quite feel that Tunley has conveyed certain information or ideas in the most compelling or cinematic of means, an easy mistake for a first-timer to make, but the general thrall of these concepts are usually potent enough that it just about works.
If nothing else, there’s that extremely memorable Paul Kaye cameo to savour, as he delivers a mid-film monologue that steals away the movie entirely. On top of that, it’s a fine showcase for Meeten and the capabilities of micro-budget British features.
The Ghoul premieres at the London Film Festival on October 14th