The Ghoul (2016 film)

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"I know its name: The Ghoul!" A homicide detective goes undercover as a patient to investigate a psychotherapist he believes is linked to a strange double murder. As his therapy sessions continue the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur.


Packaging for The Ghoul (2016 film)...
  • Release Date: 2016
  • Country/Language: UK, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror (psychological horror), Thriller
  • Setting: Modern UK
  • Runtime: 1 hr 25 min
  • Starring: Tom Meeten, Alice Lowe, Rufus Jones
  • Director: Gareth Tunley
  • Writer: Gareth Tunley
  • Producer/Production Co: Jack Healy Guttmann, Gareth Tunley, Ben Wheatley, Tom Meeten, Dhiraj Mahey;
  • View Trailer: (link)
  • IMDB Page: (link)


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: not rated (maybe equivalent to a PG-13 for Violence and Profanity)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • SS___ (Two Tentacles: Barely Lovecraftian; vaguely similar in tone, could be a very loose adaptation)

The vaguely Lovecraftian treatment of the titular Ghouls as undying sorcerers surviving via thought-transference, as well as themes of paranoia and distorted identity come close in theme to Lovecraft's work.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Anton Bitel at Projected Figures (link) - "In this dark vision of London as a circular Hell, Tunley has the confidence to leave much of the heavy narrative lifting to the viewer. For while he takes us on this heady round trip whose ultimate destination is a tragedy of mysterious, misremembered motives and Möbian madness, he is also content to give us two maps for the same lost highway, without presuming to tell us which is the more accurate."
  • Joe Bendel at J.B. Spins (link) - ""The Ghoul" probably demands too much attention from Rob Zombie horror fans, but if you just focus a little, it will really get under your skin. ... Cinematographer Benjamin Pritchard gives it a dark, dank, eerie look ..."
  • Laura Clifford at Reeling Reviews (B+) (Link) - "Tunley's psychological thriller keeps turning the screws, events becoming ever more sinister after Morland enters the picture (McGivern calls to mind "A Clockwork Orange's" Patrick Magee). Chris is photographed as if he's at the bottom of a cavern, his tiny room dwarfing him inside, buildings looming over him out, camerawork which begins shakily handheld ironically turning smoother the creepier things get, unsteadier as the film builds to its climax. Shepherd's dynamic score ranges from ethereal gloom to Hitchcockian to gothic harpsichord - and back again."
  • Aime Cranswick at Flickering Myth (link) - "Essentially, "The Ghoul" has the plot of an episode of "Tales of the Unexpected" except for it doesn’t really have a pay-off which, when you get to the point in the film when you realise how it is going to end, makes watching it feel like a bit of a waste of time. ... "The Ghoul" has ambition and moments of potential but is let down massively by the fact that there isn’t really a story there and the whole thing has the feel of a showreel piece for something to come later on – hopefully it will be something more cohesive and rewarding."
  • Alexa Dalby at Britflicks (3/5 Stars) (link) - "In writer/director Gareth Tunley’s intricately written film, as seen through its central character’s unreliable, possibly disintegrating, perspective is anyone who they appear to be? Events are open to contradictory reinterpretations. In fact, do they really happen? It doesn’t really fit into any genre – partly shot like a police procedural, partly breaking out into poetic wide shots of the London skyline, partly a study of descent into delusion with a sense of reality being slightly skewed..."
  • Richard Scheib at The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review (3/5 Stars) (link) - ""The Ghoul" begins deceptively. We are introduced to Tom Meeten as a police detective who is asked to solve a baffling double murder and is assigned to go undercover as a patient... ... As the film goes on, we realises what we are watching is a mindfuck of the first order."

Synopsis (SPOILERS)

 Spoiler Section (Highlight to Read)

A man identifying himself as a homicide detective apparently goes undercover as a patient to investigate a psychotherapist he believes is linked to a strange double murder. As his therapy sessions continue the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur, and it becomes uncertain whether the man really is a detective undercover as a mental patient, or a mental patient pretending to be a detective. When the man meets another patient suffering the delusion that his doctor's unorthodox psychological methods are actually a black magic ritual used by aging sorcerers to steal human bodies, and the man's own therapist transfers her patients to the suspected sorcerer, the entire story descends into a bizarre paranoid haze of delusion, and the viewers are left to their own devices to decide what is truth and what is fantasy.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • The film references the Möbius Strip and its three-dimensional equivalent, the Klein Bottle, as psychological models, philosophical constructs, or magical devices, as well as the use of Sigil Magic for wish fulfillment.

Associated Mythos Elements

  • race: Witches
  • race: Ghouls (referenced obliquely; the film's Ghouls are psychological/philosophical in nature, rather than carnal, consuming the intellect of their victims and stealing their bodies)

Keeper Notes