The Ghoul

Physiological thriller The Ghoul shows its first time director Gareth Tunley is a filmmaker to keep an eye out for in the future

Film Review by Adam Stafford | 14 Sep 2017
Film title: The Ghoul
Director: Gareth Tunley
Starring: Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Rufus Jones, Dan Renton Skinner, Niamh Cusack, Paul Kaye
Release date: 4 Sep
Certificate: 15

First time writer-director Gareth Tunley’s tightly-scripted psychological thriller stars comedic actor Tom Meeten as Chris, a detective called to London by his superior (Dan Skinner) to help investigate a double homicide where the forensic facts don’t add up. Suspecting Coulson (Rufus Jones), the letting agent of the flat where the crime took place, Chris goes undercover as a struggling depressive as a ruse to infiltrate Coulson’s psychiatric files for information.

When he begins therapy with the suspect’s psychologist (Niamh Cusack), Chris begins to reveal to her that he fantasises about being a homicide detective and admits to quietly stalking his college friends (Skinner and Lowe). Is he a real detective, totally immersed in his undercover role? Or is Chris a fantasist with mental health issues and potentially dangerous? These are the questions that the film poses as the narrative slides into paranoia with Chris gradually befriending the unhinged Coulson and inadvertently becoming involved with another psychiatrist who has a fetish for the occult (the fantastic Geoffrey McGivern).

We are now in the murky territory of Christopher Nolan’s Following and Ben Wheatley’s Kill List where nothing is as it seems and twisty revelations appear almost scene-by-scene. The three leads – Meetan, Jones and Lowe – are terrific and hold things together well as the wheels begin to fall off by the third act. Impressively, Tunley shot the film in ten days over three locations for next to nothing, and the result is a good film that you wish was great.

The Ghoul suffers technically from this hurriedness: the hand-held cinematography is often flat; the editing is sometimes sloppy and reliant too much on scenic cut-away and voiceover; and the imposing music score brings to mind a Lynda La Plante murder mystery. These problems aside, this is a promising and absorbing debut from a director to watch.


Tunley and Meetan commentary, an in-depth ‘making-of’ featurette, short film The Baron, and an essay by horror writer Adam Scovell. [Adam Stafford]

Released by Arrow Video