The Haunting of Bly Manor — Mike Flanagan’s follow up to The Haunting of Hill House — is framed around the art of storytelling, specifically the campfire delight of unravelling a good ghost story, the kind that gets under your skin and makes you jump at shadows. The show opens with a rehearsal dinner for a young couple about to get married. As family and friends sit around with their after-dinner drinks, they begin talking about the possibility of ghosts, leading inevitably to the telling of stories.
Continue reading “Ghost Stories Can Be Love Stories: The Haunting of Bly Manor”
The concept of the paranormal, of something beyond what we see and hear, has always fascinated me. Over the span of my life, I’ve watched a number of shows about ghost hunting and paranormal investigations.
Most recently, I’ve been captivated by Hellier (YouTube/Prime), a show in which a team of investigators are asked to look into a strange case of Kentucky goblins — only to have the investigation spiral off into progressively weirder territory.
Two of the investigators in Hellier, Karl Pfeiffer and Connor Randall, began their work as paranormal investigators at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, a site well known for having paranormal activity and for being the inspiration for Stephen King’s The Shinning. From the period of 2009 to 2016, the hotel hosted five-hour paranormal investigations for the public, which Pfeiffer and Randall participated in as guides.
Continue reading “Experimental Paranormal Investigations in ‘Spirits of the Stanley’”
Personal Shopper, directed by Olivier Assayas, begins with the presence of a ghost. Maureen (Kristen Stewart) wanders through an empty house. Doors slam in the distance, things creak. She speaks a name and we see a flicker of something in the shadows behind her, though it’s not entirely clear what.
It’s a perfect set up for a horror movie — the woman alone in the house, the strange sounds, the ghost — and yet, Personal Shopper confounds the viewer by breaking with the expected tropes. Yes, there are ghosts (or something resembling them), but they are mostly harmless, just whispering figures in the dark.
Continue reading “Haunted by Grief: A Review of ‘Personal Shopper’”
“A village girl travels to the Lao capital, Vientiane, to care for her rich cousin who has lost her sight and gained the ability to communicate with the dead.”
Dearest Sister, directed by Mattie Do, can best be understood through the complicated familial relationships that are at its core, which blend love and betrayal within the situational reality of class structures. Nok (played by Amphaiphun Phommapunya) exists in an unsettled position throughout much of the film. When she arrives at her cousin’s home, she is an outsider — the camera peering with her into the home as the servants ignore her and the husband continues to speak English, a language she doesn’t understand. The scenes provide an intense feeling of isolation, which continues even as she is introduced the next day to her cousin Ana (played by Vilouna Phetmany).
Continue reading “‘Dearest Sister’ Dives into the Horrors of Family Relationships”