by Hope Madden
The Ghoul opens on a crime scene. One detective leads another through the facts of the crime, which appear simple enough until you work in the bit about the victims walking toward the perpetrator even after being repeatedly shot.
Are we watching a cop drama, supernatural thriller or meditation on mental illness? Actor turned writer/director Gareth Tunley keeps you guessing.
As Chris (Tom Meeten), working with criminal profiler Kathleen (Alice Lowe), goes undercover to investigate a therapist who may be hiding a lead, Tunley’s story takes a series of mysterious turns.
In his feature debut behind the camera, Tunley’s instincts for leading and misleading pay off. His film moves quite slowly, wandering into fascinating territory now and again as it forever turns itself inside and out.
To say much more about the plot would rob it of its curious power, but the writing, in particular, deserves attention for accomplishing something few scripts manage.
An agile, believable lead performance helps.
Meeten’s quiet, often heartbreaking turn grounds the film, while Rufus Jones and Geoffrey McGivern, as patient and psychologist, respectively, offset the quiet with bright bursts of energy.
Tunley offers two equally viable interpretations for his film, echoing events and phrases to create a structure that mirrors the mystery unfolding. Reminiscent at times of memorable (if underseen) indies Tony, Locke and They Look Like People, The Ghoul still manages to tell its own peculiar and poignant story.