The work I’ve seen from French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Côté all involve the subject of lost souls. Carcasses was a pseudo-doc about a lonely scrapyard owner who is suddenly interrupted by a gang of wanderers, and Curling followed the faded relationship between a father and his daughter in the wake of a tragedy.
The recurring problem I have wth Côté’s filmmaking concerns the amount of ambiguous detail in his stories – purpose and motivation don’t ever seem to be pressing issues. His latest film, Ghost Story Anthology, thankfully corrects this issue. It turns out that when he tells a story about lost souls in the absolute literal sense, not only does everything come together, but he leaves his audience breathless.
Like his past work, Ghost Town Anthology is based out of a forgotten town on the fringe of society and, like Curling, the characters in the film are reeling from a sudden tragedy. There’s been a fatal car accident in Irénée-les-Neiges, Quebec that has left the small population rattled; some even presuming it was a self-inflicted crash calculated by Simon Dubé, the young man driving the vehicle. The town’s mayor (Diane Lavallée) assures everyone that, as a community, they’ll be able to move on together. While this encouragement is somewhat appreciated, the hollowness behind the words is apparent by the mayor’s lack of overall investment. As the victim’s family grieves, sightings of Simon start to occur – beginning as private encounters and evolving into public appearances that open the supernatural landscape to those who could never escape Irénée-les-Neiges.
Ghost Town Anthology is an ethereal experience about existential journeys. In this realistic portrayal of countryside life, Côté uses the conventions of family dramas and supernatural horror to create an atmospheric movie that connects the past and present to intuitively reveal a haunting future. The movie shares the occasional parallel with the framework of 2017’s A Ghost Story, but Ghost Town Anthology is more about a larger reawakening than the condensed scope of A Ghost Story. Both films work in different extraordinary ways.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie