31st Jan2020

‘Inner Ghosts’ DVD Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Celia Williams, Elizabeth Bochmann, Iris Cayatte, Norman MacCallum, Amanda Booth, Patricia Godinho, João Blümel, Inês Sá Frias | Written and Directed by Paulo Leite

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Inner Ghosts is a low-budget supernatural horror movie directed and written by Paulo Leite in his directorial debut. The film began as a Kickstarter campaign from Leite which was funded successfully in 2018. A touch on the convoluted side of things, it still kept my attention, for better or worse, and in the end I found that there were some really inventive and interesting ideas going on here.

What struck me immediately, which isn’t usually the case with low-budget horror films, was the impeccable and delightful music that Inner Ghosts had going on. The work done by Miguel Cordeiro who composed the minimalist and eerie score to the film is worth mentioning in my view. It really helped to immediately convey a specific energy and added true quality to things. The cinematography, too, from Miguel Sales Lopes, a Portuguese cinematographer who has worked on dozens of things over the years, is very good and shows that regardless of the low budget being worked with here, the quality of the visuals and sound of the film were still given the proper respect. It does look and sound very nice.

This contemporary slice of horror focuses on Dr. Helen Stevens, played by Celia Williams, a professor and former medium who is working on Alzheimer’s research for her university by looking into the “other-side”, where souls go after death or after loss of brain function. With the help of a couple of individuals with their own psychic abilities, Helen finds herself facing hard decisions as the world of science and the supernatural clash.

The film is, for its first forty minutes at least, a study of maternal grief, looking at a mother’s loss of her daughter, a thing that happens as the film begins, and a great way to introduce such a strong catalyst into the story. This is, after all, all about Williams’ Helen and her response to losing her kin, her desperate struggle to find out what happens to the mind after death, her desperate hunt to regain some part of her daughter again. The trauma and struggle with mourning that the film shows in the early stages are the strongest moments of the film, with Williams delivering a fine performance, a performance that holds the film together and ties it up neatly, but sadly not neatly enough in the end. There’s a messy element to the way the plot is driven and there’s too much going on. When things were at their most simple, Inner Ghosts was at its most compelling, but as things go on I felt like the untidiness of what happens dragged the film down.

It isn’t bad though, by any means, and while I was left feeling a bit short-changed with the conclusion to the story, and would have liked the eerie simple grief of the early stages to have been delved into on a deeper level and allowed to carry the story all the way, there are still some lovely ideas, wonderful visuals, a great score and a lead performance worth applauding. Leite and his crew delivered an intriguing tale here, and I had a good time experiencing it, despite how I felt things went as the movie progressed. If you like the idea of a grief-driven contemporary horror film with a soulful core performance then give it a shot, you just might enjoy it.

Inner Ghosts is out now on DVD and DIgital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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