Review: I Am a Ghost

Posted: June 19, 2014 in Review, Scary Stuff
Tags: , , , , ,

Two words: awesomely freaky!

Ever since I heard of this film and saw the trailer for it, I’ve been dying to get my hands on it. I mean, it’s won a lot of awards, and just watching the trailer you can tell it’s a truly terrifying movie. I’ve seen it a couple of times, and I still jump every time they do those creepy notes. (If you were unable to watch the trailer for any reason, please click here)

If you thought that was terrifying, you can see why I wanted to get this movie. Sadly, it was really hard for me to get my hands on, so I only got it tonight by downloading it off of Amazon. Suffice it to say, it was money well spent.

I Am a Ghost follows Emily, a woman in a 19th-century white dress living in a house with a strange mix of Victorian and early 20th century furniture. Slowly, you see her act out certain activities over and over. Each time, it’s a little different, a little stranger, a little freakier. And then comes in Sylvia, a psychic whom we don’t see. She is only accessible to Emily and to the viewer as a disembodied voice, a medium hired by the family who owns Emily’s house to help her move on. (We don’t see the family either, but if we did, I’d say it’s a couple of cheery kids who break into tears when freaky stuff happens, a wife who’s opened herself up to the paranormal because it threatens her family, and a father who’s reluctant to admit his house is haunted, let alone that they need a medium). From there, it is a strange, deeply psychological story that keeps you glued to the screen from strange start to terrifyingly freaky finish.

H.P. Mendoza, the writer, director, and cameraman of this film, weaves a very fascinating story, showing Emily’s chores and life through different angles as she repeats them in a dream over and over again, and then finding new ways to make them even freakier. Slowly but surely, you will find yourself drawn in like a fish on a reel, and as the film moves towards the end, we become shocked with more and more information on Emily’s life and death, which ultimately leads to an ending that will leave you terrified to the core.

Anna Ishida, the actress who plays Emily, gives a wonderful performance as a ghost stuck in time (or floating in time, considering that she’s comfortable in a house with furniture and technology from several eras, wears a 19th-century dress, and speaks like she’s from modern times). You find yourself unable to look away from her as she becomes slowly aware of why she’s been unable to move on and on how to get out. It became quite easy to identify with her early on. And Jeannie Barronga, who voices Sylvia, makes a great counselor, with a kind, maternal voice that makes you want to get on the red couch.

The script is well-written, and H.P. Mendoza has earned the comparisons to Hitchcock and Kubrick (though I have no idea who Bergman is), mixing suspense and avant-garde filming techniques in perfect harmony. And he found a gem in his make-up artist Diana Tenes, who did a wonderful job with a certain character near the end of the movie (I won’t spoil it, but I’m still reeling from what she did near the climax of the film with a certain creepy character). I’m sure in years to come, I Am a Ghost will receive plenty more awards, and a lot of analysis and interpretations, not just from filmmakers, but from academics and philosophers and filmophiles everywhere (in fact, there’s already a few on the website, but don’t read them till after you’ve seen the movie). I’d certainly love to read some of those analyses, if they ever make it into a published essay.

All in all, I Am a Ghost is a wonderful, terrifying tour de force, and well worth the time for any true fan of horror. I’m rating it a 4.5 out of 5. The only flaw, in my opinion, is that it wasn’t a little bit longer. I certainly wouldn’t have minded the movie being a little longer than it was. But the rest is just great, and I think H.P. Mendoza did an awesome job creating it. He’s definitely a director I wouldn’t mind letting adapt one of my stories or collaborate on a film together. And I don’t say that about a lot of directors.

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