Ghostwritten Movie Review

Available February 9, 2024 (Video on Demand)


“Ghostwritten” is an independently-crafted movie with a limited budget and lofty goals. The story reveals that writing a novel is usually done alone. But sometimes, when the situation and surroundings are paranormal, what results has come from a team effort. However, not each member of the writing team is alive…


There is a writer who has one very successful debut novel. This is Guy Laury (played by Jay Duplass). His novel eight years ago was called “Lost Child”. The book was somewhat based on his sad childhood. The novel reflected his abusive father and his mentally psychotic mother. But tragedy sells, and the book was a success.


The publishing company has been waiting for Guy to deliver on a contractually obligated follow-up book. Guy has gotten nowhere, because he lives on the block. Unfortunately for him, the ‘block’ in which he is located is Writer’s Block. The publisher gets Guy to spend some time at the publisher’s family summer residence. Being alone in a house on Nantucket for a few months will spur on Guy’s creative juice.


Guy’s mother is a private mental hospital, and he is unable to pay any of the bills. He knows that he needs to get away and finish this new novel to get a nice juicy advance payment. Then he can start taking care of these things. But he is not looking forward to flying to the island; it is one of his many fears. He is dropped off at a huge residence near the shore.


It is just by chance another famous author also lives on this island. Martin Cline (played by Thomas Jay Ryan) has several well-received novels. He has the same publisher as Jay. Many years ago, the publisher also got Martin to spend a few months at the same island getaway. After that time staying in the beach house, Martin turned into a prolific writer.


Guy gets settled in at the house, only to feel unsettled. There are odd noises and voices from down the hallway. There are bumps and thumps and shadow people on the wall. There lights that flicker and turn off and on. Doors can open and close by themselves. Guy is disturbed at what he sees and what he hears. Plus he wonders if he has some of the same mental issues as his mother.


One evening, he walks all the way into town. In a little pub, he orders a drink from a bartender named Lucy (played by Lena Hudson). Funny — she looks like the woman who piloted the plane to get here. A couple of the patrons scoff at the sight of Guy. Lucy says he is always welcome, and he can ignore the chatter from the other patrons. She could be his ‘muse’…


Guy describes himself as a stereotypical ‘white man with a typewriter’ — a stuffy intellectual who has no business being here. Guy spends all of his time listening to podcast and audio books, usually while running. So, maybe these people have a point.


Guy has gotten nowhere on starting the new novel. He thinks that maybe these weird paranormal things that seem to happen to him can be the source of a new book. He heads over to the library. There he meets Julie (played by Maria Dizzia). She is the administrator of the place. She has a great deal of knowledge of local mystical folklore and superstitions. She even gives lectures on old historical cultures and how Greeks and Romans believed in heroic epics.


Guy is out running and meets Martin Cline. Martin knows that writing is very difficult. He tells Guy that the “first one is almost as hard as the second one”. Martin knows that Guy is struggling with his new novel, because he had faced a similar situation. Many years ago, Martin faced a similar lack of inspiration. But something happened when Martin stayed in that same house where Jay is now.


A floorboard comes loose, and Guy trips on it. He notices a small space under the boards, and there is something in there. He digs out a decades-old package. It is manual type-written manuscript on fading paper. Where did this come from? Was it placed here at some point a long, long time ago? Maybe this was from when Martin Cline stayed here in house ages ago.


Throughout the whole story a disembodied female voice has been narrating and explaining the situation with Guy. Guy knows that this ‘voice’ will sometimes speak to him, but he does not know where it comes from. The ‘floorboard novel’ somehow gets typed up into Jay’s laptop. It somehow gets sent to his publisher. They all gush over the creative work that Jay has ‘written’.


Jay’s friend Julie tells of the ancient stories of gods and monsters, back in mythology times. The bartender Lucy said she would be his muse to get Jay writing again. But what if that in reality, she was a ‘muse’ from Mythology — a spirit able to possess a man and make him write anything she wants?


Did a similar fate happen to Martin Cline? Was his time spent in this beach house also filled with spooky dread that turned into a fruitful career? Jay has had visions of a much younger Martin, a man who spent his time writing. Be he did not seem to be alone in Jay’s visions. There was always a woman around – it could have been his ‘muse’…


“Ghostwritten” is a clever little story of ghosts and writers, and how these concepts might intersect. Thomas Matthews has come with a creative way to tell a story that might take its origins from ancient myths. Using the cover of a ‘ghost story’ in a ‘haunted house’ can cover up some unusual sources.


A story of a hapless writer, a reluctant hero, mimics some stories that would feel at home in Homer’s epic or the works of Plato. The movie’s images are mostly in black and white and also indicate a feeling of ‘age’. Like the older movies from the 1950’s, this gives a ‘noir’ aspect to the production.


The story might be considered a companion piece to “Secret Window”. That movie was based on Steven King novel, and it featured a writer who also came across a story in a mysterious manner. This movie has a more unusual take on the idea of where a story can originate. In this case, it alludes to an ancient spirit that can control the writer.


“Ghostwritten” can appear as a regular haunted house type ghost story. But peeling back the edges, you might see some undertones of Greek mythology and modern-day madness.




Written and Directed by: Thomas Matthews
Starring: Jay Duplass, Maria Dizzia, Lena Hudson, Thomas Jay Ryan
Cinematography: Daryl Pittman
Edited by: Janna Ering
Music by: Kevin Bendis, Fritz Myers
Distributed by: Cranked up Films
Release date: February 9, 2024 (Video on Demnd)
Length: 82 minutes
MPAA rating: not rated
Genre: Mystery


Rating contributor: JMcNaughton tmc

I think movies need to be shared and enjoyed by as many people as possible! Going to a movie theater is a group experience, even if you go in there alone. When the lights go dark and movie begins, you can participate in a special kind of magic. You can be entertained, or enlightened. But you are never bored. Or at least, let's hope not. Try reading the reviews first.. maybe that will help!

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