Ghostwritten (2024) Movie Review: The Story Needs More Spelled Out

As a writer, there are days where inspiration becomes elusive. But what happens when those days turn into months and then years? In the new film Ghostwritten, written and directed by Thomas Matthews, that is exactly the challenge that author Guy Laury (Jay Duplass) is facing.

After seeing success with his first novel, Laury is under contract to deliver his second book, but the ideas are not flowing. In addition to his writer’s bock, his mother’s mental illness has landed her into a care facility and the money to pay for it is running out. It’s at this point that Laury’s publisher offers him a chance to get away to Nantucket for a two-month writer’s residency at the home of her colleague Mark. Laury takes this opportunity to escape his problems and hopefully find his second novel before all of his issues collapse down on top of him. However, what seems like a peaceful retreat soon turns into a Faustian tale after Laury finds a manuscript in the floorboards of the house he is staying in. And while he begins to struggle with his decision about what to do with this find, he begins to learn that the decision may not be his.

Ghostwritten has a lot of potential but falls a bit short in regards to its paranormal aspects. While the connection to Faust is set up from the very beginning of the film, the allusions to paranormal and demonic supernatural influence are way more obtuse than they should be. Matthews includes clips of interviews about paranormal activity on the island, but the inclusion of those never really seem to make much sense. And while I can understand not wanting to spell out everything for the audience, Matthew needed to spell out more than he did.

While I did not fall in love with the film, there are aspects of Ghostwritten that I did appreciate. The first thing is the acting in the film. Jay Duplass, Maria Dizzia, Katelyn Shell, and Thomas Jay Ryan are all very believable in their roles. The film is also beautifully shot in black and white with pops of color that highlight some of the supernatural aspects of the film.

I really wanted to like Ghostwritten more than I did. What I am not sure of is if the missing pieces were missing from the initial script of if they ended up on the cutting room floor.

Ghostwritten has a run time of 84 minutes and is not rated. The film is available On Demand today.

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Darcy Staniforth

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