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Review: A Ghost Story

Updated on October 7, 2017
Poster for A24's A Ghost Story
Poster for A24's A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story

A24's A Ghost Story is a supernatural drama written and directed by David Lowery. It stars Casey Affleck ('C' a struggling magician) and Rooney Mara ('C's wife) who live together in house in a small field of Dallas/Fort worth. 'C' is killed in a car crash and later awakens inside of a white sheet. The theme of the film is time and 'C's ghost in his wake follows his wife turning into the ultimate voyeur. Not only for his late wife, but for others as well.

Rooney Mara ('M') with 'C' (Casey Affleck) watching her in the background.
Rooney Mara ('M') with 'C' (Casey Affleck) watching her in the background.

A Haunted House

Whatever hour you woke, there was a door shutting. The film opens with this simple line. If you're familiar with short stories, then you'd immediately recognized this quote from "A Haunted House" by Virginia Woolf. The short story involves the narrator and the presence of ghost within the house that she resides in. Whenever the narrator reads...or wakes from her that groggy state of half consciousness she hears what she concludes to be a ghostly couple.

What the story makes clear is whatever the couple is looking for lies hidden inside the house. The narrator can hear them as they look for it. Their movements and speech, she is attuned to it. More to the point of the film, the story itself goes from past to present to future and then back again. The story, like the film, emphasis the effortlessness of time and how freely the rest of the world moves on, with or without us.

The Ghost

The white sheet that covers 'C' is not only visually striking but ghastly in its use. 'C's ghost awakes in the hospital and wonders. He makes the long walk down the corridors of the hospital. The long walk back to his home in Dallas. His movements are slow and emotionless. He is a voyeur in everything and sometimes a participant. He watches everything and everyone go by. At times, it may encounter other ghost and they communicate.

Ghost 'C' as he walks back to his home in Dallas.
Ghost 'C' as he walks back to his home in Dallas.

The House

"When you leave here.When you go from a home. You take all that you own but the memories echo." - Woman (Reading).

The song "Woman (Reading)" featured in La Dispute's Rooms of the House perfectly describes the historic tone of this film. The movie as a whole is honestly about moving on. Ghost 'C' struggles to find his purpose because he feels like he's waiting for something. But, unfortunately time does not stand still for anyone. Whether you're searching for salvation, a loved one, or purpose, the world moves with or without you. And that's what this film beautifully conveys.

The house where you lived in, many years later could now be something else. Perhaps a mall or a skyscraper. Or, maybe centuries back there may have been a war on the site which many, many years later may turn out to be your home.

'C' (Casey Affleck)
'C' (Casey Affleck)


Is A Ghost Story scary? Well, no. However, it doesn't need to be. There's nothing scary about Casey Affleck in a white hospital sheet. But, there are certain scenes in their entirety that can come off as terrifying. Especially, the long takes of 'C' looming in the background. What the film does so well is play off our conventional knowledge or experiences with the paranormal.

We've all had times where we may have thought someone or something was with us. The smallest crack or bump in the night. However, the film uses those ideas and integrates it into a breathtaking story. In a different context, the white sheet could be seen as horrifying but in this context, with this narrative, it's poetic. Finally, it's aspect ratio of 1:33:1 is brilliant. Like Ghost 'C' you'd feel like as if you are trapped somewhere, watching 'C' story through a window. And the movie is all the better for it.

A Ghost Story is currently out on Blu-ray, DVD, and all available streaming platforms.


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