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The Ghoul
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Filmmakers' commentary
  • Interviews with the cast and crew
  • The Baron, a 2013 short film by Gareth Tunley, starring Tom Meeten and Steve Oram (Aaaaaaaah!, Sightseers)
  • Trailer
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Adam Scovell, author of Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange

The Ghoul

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Gareth Tunley
2016 | 85 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Review Date: September 11, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

From executive producer Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Free Fire) comes a mind-bending British psychological thriller to sit alongside such classics of the genre as Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell's Performance, David Lynch's Lost Highway and Christopher Nolan's Following. Chris is a homicide detective called to London to investigate a strange double murder. Both victims appear to have continued moving towards their assailant despite multiple gunshots to the face and chest. On a hunch, and with the help of an old colleague - and former girlfriend - Chris decides to go undercover as a patient to investigate the suspect's psychotherapist, the mysterious Alexander Morland, who has a taste for the occult... The debut feature of writer-director Gareth Tunley, starring Tom Meeten (Sightseers), Alice Lowe (Garth Marenghi's Darkplace) and Dan Renton Skinner (Notes on Blindness), The Ghoul is the latest standout addition to a thriving new wave of British cinema.


PICTURE

Gareth Tunleyís drama/thriller The Ghoul receives a Blu-ray release from Arrow video, who present the film in its original aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 on a dual-layer disc. Arrowís notes are vague on the master, only stating it was supplied by the filmmakers. It is presented here with a 1080p/24hz high-definition encode.

A recently released film shot on digital itís no real surprise that it looks pretty good. In general details are pretty sharp and colours look great (even if there is a depressing look and aura to the film) with black levels appearing surprisingly strong for the most part: the digital photography can limit this aspect at moments, making the blacks milky which in turn flattens the image a bit. Still, on the whole, they look pretty good.

Since the photography is digital there are of course no print flaws and other than that flatness that I blame more on the black levels I didnít see any glaring anomalies or problems. Iím pretty sure the disc is presenting the film pretty much as-is and it looks pretty good on here.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

We get a very effective DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround soundtrack. The sound design isnít all that surprising, pretty typical for a modern day psychological thriller. The filmís score and sound effects work together to create unease and bounce around the sound field. The mix is effectively done and direction is decent, and there are some louder jumps showing off the trackís range. There is also some nice low-level effects from the woofer. But, more importantly, dialogue, focused to the front, is clear and sharp, while fidelity is excellent. Itís a solid presentation that works perfectly for the film.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The special features, though few, manage to offer a couple of surprises, at least for me, starting with the making-of In the Loop, which features interviews with members of the cast and crew, including Tunley, Guttmann, actors Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Geoff McGiven, Niamh Cusack, Rufus Jones and Dan Skinner, producer Jack Healy Guttmann, composer Waen Shepherd, and executive producers Dhiraj Mahey and Ben Wheatley. I have to admit total ignorance here as Iím not overly familiar with everyone involved in the production so I had absolutely no idea that just about everyone involved with the film comes from a comedic background, having worked on various comic television programs and films. This is something that doesnít show through in any shape or form in the main feature, so it caught me off guard a bit. The primary participants talk about how they all first met, which was at a comedy festival in Edinburgh (something Iím again not familiar with) and the work theyíve done over the years. Both Tunley and Meeten worked on a short film called The Baron (included on this disc) which led them to thinking it wouldnít be so hard to do a longer feature film, since, based on running time, would really be just like making 10 short films (and this is said with a chuckle). I figured the film was made on a shoestring budget and it appears it was even shoestringier than I first figured, which admirably doesnít show through all the much: the film manages to look more expensive than it actually is. Everyone explains how they managed this and then talk about the lengthy post-production process (a necessity because of the low budget and having to work around everyoneís time and jobs) and eventual release. Itís a rather fascinating backstory and my admiration at what was accomplished only increased. This feature, which was produced by Arrow, runs about 36-minutes.

Next is the aforementioned 2013 short film made by Tunley and Meeten, The Baron, based on a character Meeten created for one of his routines. The 10-minute film does show some elements that would make its way into The Ghoul, primarily in its showing of someone dealing with depression with the film centering around an unhappy office schlub looking to seek revenge on those who have wronged him with the assistance of an alter ego he calls ďThe Baron.Ē Though it starts out with dark subject matter and the imagery to match this film has a different goal in mind in comparison to The Ghoul and the payoff is pretty good. Not knowing anything about Meeten or the character probably helped in my enjoyment as well. Meeten and Tunley also offer a funny yet informative optional audio commentary, covering the filming and the background of the Baron as a character.

The filmís theatrical trailer is then provided next. Arrow concludes the disc with an audio commentary featuring Tunley, Meeten, and Guttmann. Tunley warns constantly that the track is going to be very technical and he sure ainít kidding. Disappointingly there isnít much about the construction of the story, or any discussion on the subject matter of the film but there is a lot about how to make your own super cheap thriller and it ends up being fascinating and educational for the most part. They talk about the various locations used (probably spending too much time on this particular topic) and blending them so they look like theyíre in the same area, as well as covering the various short cuts and lucky breaks they had, along with things they had to drop due to budget and time constraints. I was quite surprised how crammed the track is, everyone keeping it going, and the participants, most of whom come from a comedy background, offer just enough levity to prevent it from becoming a grueling ordeal.

Arrow also includes a booklet featuring an essay by Adam Scovell, going over the filmís psychological themes and the use of the city setting. In the end itís not a terribly packed special edition but I did enjoy the production details and did get a big kick out of the included short film.

6/10

CLOSING

Though itís not a packed special edition itís nice to see this film receive this special treatment on home video. It looks and sounds good and I found the supplements entertaining and fascinating. A solid little edition.




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