It’s rare that a film with such efficient storytelling could flounder for nearly two hours.
Set in Quebec’s Irenee-les-Neiges, population 215, a death, and of someone so young, will reverberate throughout the town for ages to come. The only thing with a greater impact is the dead gradually rising to meander about our snowy haven.
Ghost Town Anthology begins with six or so abrupt, mostly wordless and idyllically efficient ways to impart a story. Commencing with a car crash killing Simon, the inconsolable reaction of his brother, the funeral, it’s aftermath and two successive new year’s sequences, all taking place over the space of several minutes, the narrative here is textbook methodical, coherent and tells us everything we need to know in so little words.
The remaining hundred or so minutes are that converse as proceedings takes near an hour to build to their quintessential reveal and through line. This near entire act feasibly one that could just as well have been absent from the final cut, there are only so many relevant characters and personalities in this town we need to know and we become accustomed to all the memorable ones in the opening segment. Dispensing with time through needless character building and lax jump scares recurring prominently within one central figure’s house, when the story does turn happenings prove just as uneventful.
Varied recurrences of undead sightings give us little insight and less so when the film in its penultimate stage veers into obviously symbolic if perpetually oblique, bleak territory. The one very apparent metaphor at it’s centre is however the systematic urbanisation of Quebecois regions and towns such as this one leading to, well, you guessed it, ghost towns.
It’s perfectly fine for a film to be selectively inscrutable but to be so nebulous in its storytelling and depiction of whatever these reanimated folk are doing, without too fulfilling any real or fairly discernible arc, invites not so much speculation and wonder but tiredness and regrettably disinterest.
Ghost Town Anthology screens as part of the Sydney Film Festival on Wednesday 12 June at 9PM, as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 5th at 9PM at Hoyts Melbourne Central and August 9th at 4PM at the Sofitel Melbourne and as part of the Brisbane International Film Festival on October 7 & 9