The influence of British filmmaker Christopher Nolan (who is front and center right now with the box office smash, Dunkirk) is clearly felt in Arrow Video’s Sept. 5 DVD and Blu-ray release of actor-turned-writer/director Gareth Tunley’s mystery thriller, The Ghoul. There’s a touch of David Lynch here as well.
It seems — on the surface — to be a routine mystery story involving a London detective named Chris (Tom Meeten — Sightseers, Tank 432), who arrives at the scene of a double-homicide where it appears that the two victims kept moving after they were clearly dead. A mystery, indeed.
The case takes a peculiar turn when Michael (Rufus Jones), the landlord of the building, suddenly goes missing and Chris’ investigation of his flat reveals that he is a crime scene junkie, or as the Brit’s call it, “a crime scene ghoul.” It is also revealed that he is under the care of a psychiatrist.
Perhaps these two events, the dead bodies and the missing landlord, are connected. And, Chris reasons that the psychiatrist might be a connecting — or at least a revealing — link to the two.
A plan is hatched (which seems Rube Goldberg in nature) with a colleague named Kathleen (Alice Lowe), a police profiler, to come up with a backstory for Chris that points to him as suffering from some sort of “mental illness.” He is in search of some psychiatric help. That help, naturally, would come in the form of Michael’s psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Fisher (Niamh Cusack— Departure, Testament of Youth, Hereafter, etc.).
You’ve been led down a path — a rabbit hole, if you will — where an odd crime scene, a possible missing link to the crime and a visit to a psychiatrist to gather information on the chief suspect all seem to be the natural order of things. But the hair goes up on the back of your neck (or mental antenna) when a sane individual takes on the disguise of a mental patient. This can’t go well.
Yes, things for Chris do indeed go south from there. His entire world, through the “fake” therapy sessions, comes slowly unwound. Is he actually investigating a mysterious crime and a missing person, or is he somehow unhinged and actually a mental patient clinging to what sanity he has by inventing this elaborate detective story. Time jumps around (Nolan) and memories shift hither and yon until we, the viewer, are never really sure of what is real … and what is the ramblings of a tortured mind.
Bonus goodies for this stylish mystery within a mystery are commentary from filmmaker Gareth Tunley, his 2013 short film, The Baron (also starring Tom Meeten) and video sessions with members of the cast and crew.