*NEW* GHOST STORIES REVIEW *NEW*

Spookay. Horrific BUT for the right reasons?

Skeptic Professor Phillip Goodman (Andy Nyman) embarks upon a terror-filled quest when he stumbles across a long-lost file containing details of three cases of inexplicable ‘hauntings’.

As soon as the heavy breathing hit those speakers over the opening title sequence, I knew what I was in for. The movie title jumping out of the screen confirmed my fears that this will not be comfortable viewing.

Something I expect from a horror.

Nyman was a solid lead. The first act ticked over as the Ricky Gervais doppelganger exposed Martin from Benidorm (Nicholas Burns) as a fake. Joking aside, it was good watching Green expose Burn’s Derek Acorah impersonator. Complete with fake tan.

A man fixated on debunking the supernatural. That was until a mysterious cassette (Do they still make those?) is posted though Green’s door. His curiousity peaked. An invitation from his childhood icon, the renowned paranormal investigator Charles Cameron, who had (until this moment) been missing for years.

I loved how the film kept you on edge from the get go. You never really knew where it was going as Green accepted Cameron’s “challenge” to explain three “unsolvable” cases.

I have to commend the cast. I couldn’t fault them. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to take them seriously as the majority of them had featured in the comedy circuit.

Each performance suited the story. Paul Whitehouse was entertaining. Using humour to hide the pain of that dreaded night. A man plagued by something more than his own demons.

I found the interviewing process a little tedious in places as Green feigned small talk to get to the good stuff BUT as soon as Whitehouse recalled the first ghost story of this saga, I was on tenterhooks.

That feeling of unease as things went bump in the night and shadows serenaded across the fading lights. The suspense and tension perfectly executed, teasing the inevitable encounter from our spooky friends.

One thing I will never be is a night watchman. I would have bolted when the power went out. Let alone, strange noises and ghastly shapes running around the premises. Fook that!

Not that I need a cheap scare to get my kicks BUT I lost count of how many times I jolted in my seat.

Alex Lawther (The End of the F***king World) was brilliant as the erratic Simon. I just wish his ghost story wasn’t so stupid despite the fitting Evil Dead nods. It wouldn’t have worked at all if wasn’t for Lawther.

I was happy to stick with Green interviewing him. Simon’s creepy household unsettled me more than the actual “ghost story”. Especially when Green tried to introduce himself to the parents *shudders*.

It was great to see Martin Freeman in this. He played it well. Not too big for the low budget Brit flicks. The poltergeist story was a mixed bag BUT it took an unexpected turn that left me in awe.

“The brain let’s you see what you want to see”.

A proper old school horror. Tense, nail biting and freaky to boot.

However, my main issue was the pacing and the actual “unravelling” of the cases. The finale will definitely split people. I was left wanting and a little disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, it took a completely different direction BUT there were quite a few obvious clues along the way and alarm bells were ringing pretty early on when Charles Cameron was introduced into the mix.

I hoped it would focus more on Green’s crusade as he questioned beliefs and challenged the idea of the “other world”. An interesting debate with a priest had potential BUT it seemed once the ghost stories came into play, even the protagonist became an unwitting spectator as the film drew to its messy conclusion.

Right up to that point, I was wincing, dreading what lie in store for each character (Forgetting that they were the narrators of their own stories!). Completely transfixed and happy to see a low budget horror flick at my local picture house.

I can’t believe I’m saying this BUT I just wish a little more time was spent on the story then the actual scares. It was too convoluted for its own good.

If you’re in the mood for a well acted low budget jump-fest, then GS is for you. Anything else, run away!

2.5/5

MORTDECAI REVIEW

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Mortified! Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Johnny Depp does his damndest to make this dreadfully unfunny farce watchable but frankly my dears, it’s just not good enough or funny enough.

If you were a little reluctant about seeing this after viewing the trailers, I’m sorry to say it is just as bad as you think.

I’ve always rated Depp and thought even if the film is a little drab, he can certainly lift it off the ground. Dark Shadows, I’m looking at you.

BUT it doesn’t help that his character is so annoying. On paper, I’m sure he was supposed to come off as Inspector Clousseau as an art dealer BUT boy, oh, boy, the end result . . .

I felt just as rotten as Gwyneth Paltrow did kissing Mortdecai’s moustache.

The plot was nothing more than a silly excuse to go across the world for some silly escapades. The con got a little baffling but it all came to a predictable and unfunny conclusion.

Depp pulling faces and waffling in his posh toff voice just wasn’t enough. Initially I couldn’t stand the bloke but by the end he had just about won me over.

I felt Depp had to overact just to get some sort of titter. For every good one liner (My file was fat and well-handled like a Welsh barmaid), there were dozens that dropped faster than a lead balloon.

Paul Bettany did his best as Mortdecai’s muscle and man servant Jock but he can’t pull off the thug role. He certainly looked the part BUT doing a cockney accent that would make even the big daddy himself Ray Winstone cringe says it all.

Sorry, Jarvis but you came off as a mug.

There was some camaraderie between him and Depp and there were a few moments in which I felt a smile crack behind my cynical demeanour.

I felt that Depp had to rely on former impressions to get a laugh. A scene in which Jock is man-handling a drunk Mortdecai felt like nothing more than Captain Jack Sparrow waffling away. It reeked of desperation.

The action sequences were incredibly lacklustre. The relentless CGI in a simple car chase sequence was very off-putting considering all the other stunt work was done by proper stunt men. Hardly memorable.

I think the only fight sequence that got my attention was when Mortdecai set Jock’s hands alight and he beat up a group of angry henchmen with fists of fire! Ridiculously OTT but impressive.

This might have fared better as a cartoon series on the telly BUT as a high rolling Hollywood crime caper? No, darling.

NOT even Ewan McGregor could get things going.

The brewing rivalry between his character Chief Inspector Martland and Mortdecai had potential BUT it was all too tame and playful to amount to anything good . . . or interesting for that matter.

The odd spot of banter but no real friction.

Martland as the lovesick puppy desperate to hump Paltrow’s leg had the odd giggle BUT again was hardly that entertaining.

The recurring joke about Mortdecai’s moustache was so-so at best.

I think the only time I laughed at this irritating gag was the bedroom scene with his beloved, Johanna (Paltrow).

Paltrow and Depp had some good chemistry and made this scene a little more bearable with some snappy dialogue. Her gag reflex every time she touches his tash was okay the first time.

BUT his sympathetic gag reflex and the constant repetition of said gag. No, no, no!

Bar one unexpected punch line, “You look like you have a vagina on your face!”

I felt that writer Eric Aronson was desperately setting up red herrings just to get Paltrow back into the film. Breaking up the unfunny film with more unfunny subplots that led nowhere.

A scene with the Duke (Michael Byrne) was terrible. If it was meant to be a cheeky pop at the Duke of Edinbrugh, it failed.

Going on about how damned attractive Paltrow was. I usually admire the alluring actress but her character Johanna was so bland and to be honest Paltrow was looking eerily thin.

The 45 minute marker in which Depp reaches America and has his first experience in a hotel actually made me laugh a couple of times.

And things seemed to perk up and gel a bit better but it really couldn’t save itself from the damage of a poor first half.

The recurring gag of Jock sleeping around was lazy but did get the odd chortle.

BUT the hit and miss gag ratio wasn’t helped by the flat supporting cast; Jeff Goldblum had the easiest role going in a highly unmemorable and unnecessary appearance. Olivia Munn may have looked stunning (Zuts Alor!) BUT her character (apart from being an attractive nymphomaniac) was pretty bland.

The legendary Paul Whitehouse made more of an impression in his 2 minute cameo as the maniacal mechanic Spinoza.

There’s the odd titter to be had but with the cast and the potential it promised, it fell dreadfully short as did my patience.

Peter Sellers had a natural flair to the role. He made Clousseau seem real. The trips, the goofs. Depp unfortunately seemed to take lessons from Steve Martin. Ridiculously out of depth, OTT and unfunny.

David Koepp may have penned some of the iconic movies of the last two decades; Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible and Spiderman BUT let’s not forget he also gave us Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and now this . . .

Sorry, Mr Depp. This is a rather horrid stain on an impeccable filmography. Better luck next time, old bean.

2/5