Movie Review: Three Misses, One Hit in Netflix's 'Ghost Stories'

Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar have collaborated on another anthology – this time of horror short films.

Movie Review: Three Misses, One Hit in Netflix's 'Ghost Stories'

A still from 'Ghost Stories'.

Tanul Thakur

After Bombay Talkies (2013) and Lust Stories (2018), four Indian filmmakers – Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar – have collaborated again on an anthology, Ghost Stories , now streaming on Netflix.

Their earlier movies revolved around cinephilia and lust, while this recent release, as the name attests, deals with horror, a genre that Akhtar and Johar have not tried before – though technically neither have Kashyap or Banerjee, but at least their past films explored darker human psyches. It seems fitting, then, that Ghost Stories starts and ends with shorts by Akhtar and Johar: two ‘novices’ ushering us in and out of this world – a relatively risky endeavour in a film about fear.

Akhtar’s short, Nurse – opening with a scene comprising recognisable horror film tropes (an overcast sky, a woman standing alone in a vast landscape marked by distinct cawing, a hen dropping dead to the ground) – signals an amateurishly ‘spooky!’ intent, but soon relaxes to find a more natural rhythm. Here, we meet Sameera (Jahnvi Kapoor), a young nurse in charge of an elderly ailing lady, Mrs Malik (Surekha Sikri), who, battered by delusions, keeps calling out for her son, Armaan. He’s nowhere to be seen or heard.

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Akhtar sets up compelling parallels between the two women: Sameera is attractive in the present, Mrs Malik was in the past. Sameera waits for her boyfriend, Guddu (Vijay Varma), Mrs Malik for Armaan. Both have suffered the consequences of familial abandonment.

Akhtar uses mirrors to depict these similarities. There are several scenes where Sameera sees her image – sometimes reflected in one, at other times in multiple mirrors. When she wears Mrs Malik’s brooch, and looks at her reflection, whom does she see: herself or her patient? Later, we see them sitting side by side, their images locked in a nearby mirror. Sameera and Mrs Malik have something else in common: the long, desolate hallway connecting their rooms.

Nurse is a story of morbid hope – of premonition – where Mrs Malik hears a doorbell before it’s rung, thinking it is Armaan (not too different from Sameera’s wish that Guddu will come to see her). The conceit of premonition is also built in the segment’s aural design: in several scenes, we first hear the sound and then see its accompanying visual. There’s also some cheeky wordplay (“Do you think I’m deaf” said by Mrs Malik sounds a lot like “do you think I’m dead”).

But despite these technical ingenuities – and attention to detail – Nurse , ending with a banal twist, doesn’t quite work. Akhtar has taken a small, affecting story and tried to force-fit it into the genre of horror. Somewhere between wracking the nerve and brushing the heart, her short loses its way.

Kashyap’s segment, Bird , is centred on a young pregnant mother, Neha (Sobhita Dhulipala), who babysits her nephew (Zachary Braz) during the day. Presumably by accident, the similarities between Nurse and Bird are remarkable. Both derive their dramatic mileage from a ‘failed’ childhood (Neha, we’re told, couldn’t be a good daughter; the karmic question, then, seems: is she even allowed to be a mother?), feature mirrors in key scenes, make frequent use of hallways and involve pain-alleviating pills.

Neha’s house has an attic, hosting a nest, a crow and a few eggs. Every now and then, Neha feeds the crow, in effect caring for the eggs. The parallels here, too, between the two ‘characters’ are quite evident: the stairs leading to the first floor seems similar to the small ladder attached to the attic. The crow, like Neha, is a mother-to-be. Neha, by caring for the crow, is trying to atone for her childhood sins. We appreciate the implication: the house is a nest, and Neha is the crow.

Many of Kashyap’s feature films work as excellent, isolated set pieces – where a good film form materialises with full force – but often fail to come together as a whole. The director, by that reason alone, should make impressive short films (and his piece for me, in Lust Stories , was the best of the lot). Bird , though, isn’t nearly half as impressive. You can pick and dissect, and be sporadically impressed by individual frames and stray strands of motifs. There’s enough ambiguity here to keep you guessing – is this a story of multiple miscarriages, of a distant oedipal bond, of a lifelong guilt – but it struggles to find a sense of cohesion. Bird , in essence, lacks an umbilical cord, continually connecting the audiences with the director: the filmmaker’s baby, as a result, is stillborn.

Banerjee’s segment, Monster , is more symbolic than Kashyap’s and is by far the best piece of the quartet. It opens to an anonymous man (Sukant Goel) – identified as “Visitor” in the end credits – entering a deserted countryside, Bisgarah (“Smalltown”). The place has just two survivors, both of them unnamed – “Little Boy” (Aditya Shetty) and “Little Girl” (Eva Ameet Pardeshi) – who detail the laws of the land. The Saugarah (“Bigtown”) people, Visitor is told, “ate the people of Smalltown”. To temporarily survive, the people of Smalltown began eating their own. The rules, as explained by Little Boy, are these: “If you move, you’ll die; if you speak, you’ll die; they don’t eat those who eat.”

A dominant society setting the rules for others, which, if not followed, can spiral into you getting lynched. These rules reduce people of Smalltown to non-people, worse than ‘second-class citizens’, who are forced to self-annihilate. The Bigtown people, in contrast, have become cannibals; moving zombie-like, they all look the same from a distance – a terrifying commentary on the perils of monoculture. (At the end of the film, we finally meet the ‘real’ people of Bigtown, who have nothing but disdain for Smalltown – especially Councilman (Gulshan Deviah), who asks Visitor, “Are you interested in history? Bigtown was once a touchstone mine. It was the capital of the state. We’ll be great again.”)

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Monster is an excellent example of layered and symbolic storytelling. Using clever hints, Banerjee constantly sustains our interest. When Visitor enters an abandoned classroom, we see an incomplete map of India – with nearly its entire western coast, including Gujarat, erased – on the blackboard. In the next scene, Smalltown’s school principal is vomiting in the courtyard, standing near a tricolour drooping from a pole. A complex film, designed to inform by being obscure, succeeds not because it is difficult to understand, but because it invites multiple points of engagement and interpretations: it compels you to revisit the piece (a crucial element lacking in Bird ).

Further, Monster has wonderful performances (Shetty, in particular, deserves praise for portraying a dubious boy with deceptive ease), even has flashes of humour and is marked by consistently impressive writing. It has some powerful visuals (especially of Visitor holding hands, begging for mercy from a bloodthirsty mob, which is disturbingly reminiscent of Mohammed Naeem , in Jharkhand, a few years ago). But a truly remarkable bit about this short is how it resists simplification, right till the very end, while still being riveting. We don’t even know its design: was it a dream or was it real? Perhaps a bit of both: a (bad) dream slowly becoming real.

Among all the filmmakers, Johar has perhaps had the most fun in the last two versions of this series. Unburdened by audiences’ expectations and producer’s demands – of making a blockbuster – he’s given himself space to breathe. His short in Bombay Talkies felt personal and poignant, while his Lust Stories piece was deliciously subversive and meta. Here, though, like Akhtar, he seems to be burdened by form, of making a ‘horror’ film, and as a result, his is the most trope-ey and disappointing segment of the lot.

Granny is about Ira (Mrunal Thakur), a young woman marrying an affluent man, Dhruv (Avinash Tiwary), who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with his (dead) grandmother. Dhruv needs her permission for everything; he wishes her good night, without fail, as a daily ritual. Even the housekeepers are in awe of the old lady.

Ira, quite justifiably, feels spooked and sidelined. It’s a very Rebecca -like set-up, the similarity finding echoes in story (replace the dead wife with the dead grandmother), characters (shifty housekeepers) and production design (a claustrophobia-inducing mansion). But Johar’s methods of invoking horror are painfully clichéd: characters shooting menacing glances, a door creaking open, the housekeeper standing with a flashlight held close to her face (even when the room is washed with light).

Johar gives us very little to hold on to, except brief flashes of meta commentary. I laughed out loud when Ira bursts into “fuck you granny” and, later, the granny returning the favour with, “Look at my fucking face.” A different decade, a different medium and an incredible amount of change: 2001, 19 years later, seems to belong to a different century now, when it was “all about loving your (grand) parents”.

  • Studio Pierrot
  • Dubs from the 2000's
  • Discotek Media
  • Anime from the 2000's
  • Texas Dubbing
  • Houston Dubbing

Ghost Stories

  • View history
  • 1 Dubbing History
  • 2.1.1 Episodic Characters
  • 2.1.2 Additional Voices
  • 2.2 Animax Dub
  • 4 Video Releases
  • 5 External Links

Dubbing History [ ]

Ghost Stories was picked up for dubbing by ADV Studios in 2005. According to voice actor Greg Ayres , they were told to "do whatever it took to sell the show." The only condition was that the basic story and names of major characters and ghosts had to remain intact, but everything else was fair game. To that end, director Steven Foster reworked the show into a pure Gag Dub by throwing out nearly all of the original script. When the voice actors were called in to record scenes, whoever got there first would set the tone and subject for the scene, which meant the other cast members had to follow in those footsteps. This approach produced a dub full of random characterization, fourth-wall-breaking jokes, political and cultural references.

An alternative dub was previously produced by the anime television network Animax , which stayed true to the original, retaining all of the original Japanese plot, character and dialog details, broadcasting the series uncensored and unedited within its respective networks across the world, including Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

ADV Dub [ ]

Episodic characters [ ], additional voices [ ], animax dub [ ].

  • Greg Ayres expressed regret that the Mel Gibson Jew rant had happened just a few weeks after production wrapped, as he would have loved to have incorporated it into the final episode.

Video Releases [ ]

External links [ ].

  • Ghost Stories at the Internet Movie Database
  • Ghost Stories (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
  • 1 Money Heist
  • 3 Pokémon Horizons: The Series

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Ghost Stories

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Currently you are able to watch "Ghost Stories" streaming on AMC Plus Apple TV Channel , AMC+ Amazon Channel, AMC+, DIRECTV or for free with ads on Tubi TV, Pluto TV. It is also possible to rent "Ghost Stories" on Amazon Video, Vudu, Apple TV, Google Play Movies, YouTube, Microsoft Store online and to download it on Amazon Video, Vudu, Apple TV, Google Play Movies, YouTube.

Where does Ghost Stories rank today? The JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity within the last 24 hours. This includes clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as 'seen'. This includes data from ~1.3 million movie & TV show fans per day.

Streaming charts last updated: 5:19:58 PM, 01/11/2024

Ghost Stories is 9751 on the JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts today. The movie has moved up the charts by 6547 places since yesterday. In the United States, it is currently more popular than Funny Girl but less popular than Wake in Fright.

Professor Phillip Goodman devotes his life to exposing phony psychics and fraudulent supernatural shenanigans. His skepticism soon gets put to the test when he receives news of three chilling and inexplicable cases -- disturbing visions in an abandoned asylum, a car accident deep in the woods and the spirit of an unborn child. Even scarier -- each of the macabre stories seems to have a sinister connection to the professor's own life.

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Streaming Charts The JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts are calculated by user activity within the last 24 hours. This includes clicking on a streaming offer, adding a title to a watchlist, and marking a title as 'seen'. This includes data from ~1.3 million movie & TV show fans per day.

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Ghost Stories

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Ghost stories.

2017 Directed by Andy Nyman , Jeremy Dyson

The brain sees what it wants to see.

Professor Phillip Goodman devotes his life to exposing phony psychics and fraudulent supernatural shenanigans. His skepticism soon gets put to the test when he receives news of three chilling and inexplicable cases -- disturbing visions in an abandoned asylum, a car accident deep in the woods and the spirit of an unborn child. Even scarier -- each of the macabre stories seems to have a sinister connection to the professor's own life.

Andy Nyman Martin Freeman Alex Lawther Paul Whitehouse Nicholas Burns Kobna Holdbrook-Smith Louise Atkins Daniel Hill Deborah Wastell Amy Doyle Maggie McCarthy Christine Dalby Jill Halfpenny Ramzan Miah Joe Osborne Maria Major Emily Carding Benji Ming Leonard Byrne Macie Allen Ryan Oliva Samuel Bottomley Jake Davies Oliver Woollford Callum Goulden Anthony Davis Mike Aarons Derren Brown Elaine Dyson Show All… Billy Sneddon Paul Warren Lesley Harcourt

Directors Directors

Andy Nyman Jeremy Dyson

Assistant Directors Asst. Directors

Terry Bamber Gemma Nunn Mike Gallivan

Producers Producers

Robin Gutch Claire Jones

Executive Producers Exec. Producers

Barry Ryan Peter Balm Niall Shamma

Writers Writers

Casting casting.

Shaheen Baig

Editor Editor

Billy Sneddon

Cinematography Cinematography

Ole Bratt Birkeland

Camera Operators Camera Operators

Paul Edwards Alf Tramontin Tobias Ross-Southall

Lighting Lighting

Joe Macdonald

Additional Photography Add. Photography

Production design production design.

Grant Montgomery

Art Direction Art Direction

Set decoration set decoration.

Dan Jackson Mason White

Special Effects Special Effects

Visual effects visual effects.

Tim Caplan Adam Gascoyne Noga Alon Stein Grahame Andrew

Stunts Stunts

Cristian Knight

Composer Composer

Frank Ilfman

Sound Sound

Martin Cantwell Simon Trundle Paul Hanks Jay Price Simon Hill Chris Alford

Costume Design Costume Design

Matthew Price

Makeup Makeup

Satinder Chumber Kristyan Mallett Jemma Harwood Michael Byrne

Hairstyling Hairstyling

Jemma Harwood Bella Cruickshank

Warp Films Catalyst Global Media Screen Yorkshire

Releases by Date

05 oct 2017, 19 oct 2017, 11 mar 2018.

  • Theatrical limited

20 Apr 2018

20 jan 2018, 06 apr 2018, 19 apr 2018, 04 may 2018, 31 may 2018, 07 jun 2018, 06 jul 2018, 31 oct 2018, 15 aug 2018, 27 aug 2018, 04 sep 2018, 06 sep 2018, 20 jun 2019, releases by country.

  • Premiere 18
  • Digital 12 VOD
  • Physical DVD
  • Theatrical 16
  • Physical Bluray e dvd

Russian Federation

  • Theatrical 16+
  • Theatrical 15

South Korea

  • Premiere Busan International Film Festival
  • Premiere 15 London Film Festival
  • Premiere South by Southwest Film Festival

98 mins   More at IMDb TMDb Report this page

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andrea🌹

Review by andrea🌹 ★★★★ 3

the devil is in the details, literally. alex lawther does psychological horror best and i’m so happy he and his trademark scared-for-his-life face is back on screen.

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Review by Movie Badger ★★★★ 15

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Review by Tony the Terror ★★★★½ 7

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Review by Allison M. 🌱 ★★★ 1

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Freyr

Review by Freyr ★★★ 2

Disappointing.

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Review by Jak-Luke Sharp ★★★★

Lionsgate. Cinema 2.39:1 Color + Monochrome  Codex 15

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Ghost Stories  evokes classic British horror cinema with shades of Theatre of Blood   and The Wicker Man , while also treading on modern ground horror in the same vein as Hereditary and The VVitch, but   while co-directors   Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman's horror comedy proposes terrific gothic aesthetic and equally exceptional camerawork from cinematographer   Ole Bratt Birkeland, who captures such a sense of anxiety and absorbing terror on screen. It does slightly underwhelm with its returns in a climax that can’t find common ground to both surprise and satisfy, with a story that struggles to conjure  a clear understanding of itself and what it contextually proposes. 

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Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, a ghost story.

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I rarely see a movie so original that I want to tell people to just see it without reading any reviews beforehand, including my own. David Lowery ’s “A Ghost Story” is one of those movies. So I’m urging you in the first paragraph of this review to just see it and save this review for later. If you want more information, read on. There are no spoiler warnings after this because as far as I’m concerned, everything I could say about this film would constitute a spoiler.

This tale of a man who dies young and lingers around the property where he and his wife once lived is bound to be one of the most divisive films of the year. I didn’t know anything about it going in, except that its main character was a person who dies and spends the rest of the movie walking around mute, wearing a white sheet with eyeholes cut out of it. The film is a ghost story, in the sense that there’s a ghost in it, but it’s also many other things: a love story, a science fiction-inflected story about time travel and time loops, and a story about loneliness and denial, and the ephemeral nature of the flesh, and the anxiousness that comes from contemplating the end of consciousness (provided there’s no life after death—and what if there isn’t?).

The characters are so archetypal that they don’t have names, just initials. C (played by Casey Affleck ) is a musician who lives with his wife M ( Rooney Mara ) in a small house surrounded by undeveloped property somewhere in the vast flatness of Texas. C dies in a car crash early in the story but continues to linger on as a ghost, silently observing his wife’s grief and her eventual exit from the home they once shared. He stays in the house as new tenants move in, including a single mother ( Liz Franke ) and her two children (Carlos Bermudez and Yasmina Guiterrez) and some young, single people who throw parties with lots of bohemian artist-types. Time keeps moving forward. At a certain point the house gets leveled and replaced by a gigantic luxury condo-hotel type of development. C stays rooted to the spot where he died, as if he’s stuck in the “denial” phase of the grieving process.

The movie’s two most fascinating formal traits are its decision to keep C under the sheet for much of the film’s running time, and the way it moves its story along with hard cuts rather than dissolves, fades-to-black, or other signifiers that a lot of time has passed. The sheet denies the film’s leading man most of the tools he’d normally use to communicate emotion. He must instead approach the character as if he were onstage in a play where gestures are more important than words, and try to convey surprise, sadness or anger by holding his head and shoulders in a particular way, or turning quickly instead of slowly to look at something.

But this opens up a different kind of relationship between character and viewer: we’re projecting ourselves onto C as we might as children playing with dolls or stuffed animals. Simple, powerful emotions can be summoned that way, and it’s those sorts of emotions that are this movie’s specialty. There were many stretches where I was reminded of European art cinema classics like “Stalker” and “ The Passenger ,” which derive much of their power from asking you to commit to staring at the images the film has put in front of you, and think about what they might mean and how you feel about them. There are other times when the film is reminiscent of “ Groundhog Day ,” in its ability to weave guilt, karma, and fear of change into a story that might otherwise have played as a light diversion.

The hard cuts that move us through the story convey the idea that C perceives time differently than we do. In a scene that involves decay, which I won’t describe in too much detail here because it occurs in a context I didn’t expect to encounter, a body becomes a skeleton in a series of cuts that last about 30 seconds. The deeper we get into C’s story, the more Lowery teases our perceptions of time, until by the end he’s got us questioning the idea of singular, linear experience. (“A Ghost Story” would make a great double feature with Shane Carruth ’s “ Primer ” or Richard Linklater ’s “ Boyhood ,” two other Texas films about the perception and experience of time.)

“A Ghost Story” feels bracingly, at times alienatingly new. It’s a movie you can’t be quite sure how to take. There are moments where the movie seems to be handing you keys to interpretation, but I’d caution viewers against looking at such scenes for answers, because they have a rope-a-dope quality—as if they're designed to bait and trap those who would sneer at this kind of movie. In any event, this is a film that's more inclined to ask questions than answer them, much less give life advice. A long monologue by a party guest ( Will Oldham ) about humanity’s doomed attempts to leave traces that last, especially through art, would seem to suggest that a song C writes for M will outlast him, but we have no evidence of that. The film’s presentation of ghosthood as a purgatorial in-between state, inhabited by individuals who refuse to let go of the life they can no longer have, jibes with many Western religions’ ideas about the afterlife, but I don’t think the resolution of C’s story gives us any hope of Heaven; to me it seemed more like a warning to be at peace with the possibility that we may never know the answers to the big questions.

I should admit here that any take I can offer is provisional. I need to see the film a second time to sweep away preconceived notions that might’ve been lingering in my mind during my first viewing of “A Ghost Story.” The movie is so simple in its storytelling and its situations are observed so patiently that the result has a disarming purity, as if Lowery jammed a tap into his subconscious and recorded one of his dreams directly to film. It’s probably the closest that a lot of people are going to get to seeing a late-period silent movie on a big screen—a melodrama that deals in big ideas and obvious symbols, and that puts across fantastical concepts, such a ghost haunting the landscape over a period of decades, by putting a sheet over its leading man and having him walk around slowly and stare blankly at stuff. (Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo shoots the movie in the old-fashioned, square-ish “Academy” ratio, letting us see the rounded edges of the frame; this has a constricting effect, so that we seem to be spying through a keyhole at someone else’s life.)

People either seem to love “A Ghost Story” or hate it, with no in-between. It got mostly very positive notices during festival screenings, but on the eve of its commercial release I’ve found myself arguing with colleagues who think it’s the Emperor’s New Clothes and find it too precious, too sentimental, too much of a one-joke movie, or not enough of one thing or another thing. I loved everything about it, including the scenes I wasn’t sure how to take. I recommend seeing it in a theater because it’s a movie that has as much to say about our perception of time and permanence as it does about love and death. Much of the impact that it has, positive or negative, comes from having to sit there and watch it without interruptions and think about what it’s showing you, and how.

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz

Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of RogerEbert.com, TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

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Film credits.

A Ghost Story movie poster

A Ghost Story (2017)

Rated R for brief language and a disturbing image.

Rooney Mara as M

Casey Affleck as C

Kesha Rose Sebert as Spirit Girl

  • David Lowery

Cinematographer

  • Andrew Droz Palermo
  • Daniel Hart

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Common sense media reviewers.

ghost stories movie parents guide

'90s classic has violence, cursing, sexual references.

Ghost Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

No real positive messages.

No real positive role models. Secondary characters

Sam is shot and killed in a violent mugging. The b

A joke about a genital rash. The stars create a ph

Occasional profanity, including one use of "f--k."

Some valuables kept in a clearly-marked Reeboks sh

Some alcohol drinking. Talk of margarita drinking.

Parents need to know that Ghost is a 1990 movie in which Patrick Swayze is a recently murdered man who remains as a ghost in order to warn the love of his life (Demi Moore) of impending danger. There's no nudity, but plenty of alluring shots and implied lovemaking. One bad guy is squished between two vehicles…

Positive Messages

Positive role models.

No real positive role models. Secondary characters are con artists.

Violence & Scariness

Sam is shot and killed in a violent mugging. The bad guys' deaths are gruesome; one is squished between two vehicles, and the other is pierced through the torso by a jagged sheet of glass. Blood shown in these deaths. Demonic imagery. Some gun violence.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

A joke about a genital rash. The stars create a phallic object on a pottery wheel and then make passionate love. There's no nudity, but alluring shots strongly implying lovemaking. The female lead strips down to her bra and panties as she's being watched by a criminal who has broken into her loft space.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Occasional profanity, including one use of "f--k." "Bulls--t," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bastard," "crap," "goddamn," "for Christ's sake." While in a crowded elevator, two characters loudly discuss how one of the character has a very contagious rash on his genitals.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

Some valuables kept in a clearly-marked Reeboks shoebox.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ghost is a 1990 movie in which Patrick Swayze is a recently murdered man who remains as a ghost in order to warn the love of his life ( Demi Moore ) of impending danger. There's no nudity, but plenty of alluring shots and implied lovemaking. One bad guy is squished between two vehicles and the other is pierced through the torso by a jagged sheet of glass. Blood shown in these deaths. Demonic imagery in two scenes. Occasional profanity, including one use of "f--k" and more frequent uses of words like "s--t." In one scene, a practical joke between two characters on a crowded elevator is centered on how one of the characters has a highly contagious genital rash. Families grieving over the loss of a loved one due to senseless criminal violence would be wise to avoid this movie. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

Where to Watch

Videos and photos.

Ghost Trailer

Community Reviews

  • Parents say (7)
  • Kids say (24)

Based on 7 parent reviews

Great movie that holds up, but too violent, profane, and intense for younger kids. Take the PG-13 rating seriously.

One of the best..., what's the story.

When Sam ( Patrick Swayze ) is killed by a mugger, he's left in some kind of limbo here on earth, able to witness events but unable to communicate with the living. He turns to Oda Mae Brown ( Whoopi Goldberg ), a wacky spiritual advisor, to help track down his killer and protect his distraught girlfriend, Molly ( Demi Moore ). Through Oda Mae, Sam is able to talk to Molly and they even have one last physical encounter through Oda Mae's body. Sam and Oda Mae manage to discover the killer, who turns out to be Sam's embezzling coworker and former best friend, Carl. In a wild climax, Sam kills Carl, who's then carried away by nasty demons. With Molly watching, Sam ascends in a beautiful, white light.

Is It Any Good?

Ghost is melodramatic and spiritually simplistic, but the combination of comedy, thrills, and mushy romance will be irresistible to some. While it doesn't explain why bad things happen to good people, it tries to reassure us that good people can find divine justice. Filled with ersatz spirituality, the movie presents a syrupy vision of the afterlife; the good guys ascend to heaven in a beam of light and bad guys are carried to hell by demons.

In the first 40 minutes, the movie plays like a melodrama, chock-a-block with unrestrained passion, gruesome murder, and plenty of suspense. With the introduction of Whoopi Goldberg as a storefront spiritual advisor, the movie radically changes direction to become a comedy. The romance also becomes a major factor. Some teens may enjoy seeing how love can conquer all -- even murder.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about the movie's formula. Why do the good guys tend to win in big Hollywood movies? If the movie had a more ambiguous ending, would it be as popular? Can you think of movies or other stories that didn't conclude happily?

What are some other examples of movies centered on the afterlife? How is this movie similar and different?

There are some violent deaths in this movie. Did the violence seem necessary to what was happening in the movie, or did it seem gratuitous?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : July 13, 1990
  • On DVD or streaming : April 24, 2001
  • Cast : Demi Moore , Patrick Swayze , Whoopi Goldberg
  • Director : Jerry Zucker
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors, Black actors
  • Studio : Paramount Pictures
  • Genre : Drama
  • Topics : Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
  • Run time : 127 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : Mature Themes
  • Last updated : March 29, 2023

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Suggest an Update

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‘Loitering on the edge of the frame like a piece of misplaced laundry’: Casey Affleck haunts Rooney Mara in A Ghost Story.

A Ghost Story review – Casey Affleck is truly haunting

Even covered in a sheet, Affleck exudes heartache in David Lowery’s gorgeously sad tale of love and loss

I t’s a bold move. Take one of the finest actors of his generation, noted for the subtlety of his recent Oscar-winning performance in Manchester By the Sea , and cover him with a sheet for most of a film. Casting Casey Affleck as the kind of bed linen-sporting ghost best known for menacing Scooby-Doo and pals is a decision akin to Lenny Abrahamson putting a massive papier-mache head on Michael Fassbender in Frank . But just as Fassbender managed to convey both humour and pathos despite the impediment of a giant moon of a false bonce, so Affleck imbues what could be an absurd presence, loitering on the edge of the frame like a piece of misplaced laundry, with an agonising sense of loss and mounting frustration. In his economic movements we recognise a soul adrift and increasingly unmoored from everything except his grief.

The fourth feature film from the American film-maker David Lowery, A Ghost Story reunites Affleck and Rooney Mara, the two stars of Lowery’s acclaimed second feature, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints . The director also brings from this previous film the hint of a Malickian influence in the slow-burning pacing and spiritual themes.

Tonally, it could hardly be further from his third picture, the delightful but rather more conventional family film Pete’s Dragon . Rather than Hollywood, the inspiration here comes from Europe – Lowery cites Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles by Chantal Akerman as a reference point; I sensed a kinship with the matter-of-fact metaphysics of Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper – and Asia. It’s this that really stands out. Both in the long, mesmerisingly languid takes and the sense of a coexisting spirit world, the influence of Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul is evident. The almost ridiculous quality of Affleck’s sheet-covered spook finds a parallel in the slightly silly, red-eyed monkey spirits of Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives . The two films also have thematic parallels. Both explore the blurred edges between our corporeal existence and a parallel dimension inhabited by shadows and unquiet souls.

What is intriguing about this particular ghost story is not the fact that Lowery decides to tell it from the point of view of the ghost rather than the haunted humans. It’s the distance that Lowery places between Affleck’s character as a human – he plays C, the musician husband of Mara’s M – and the mournful, wafting presence he becomes after death. Once everything that made him human – his physical being, his powers of communication – is whittled away, what remains is love and an aching longing; he is a bruise without a body. Bereavement isn’t limited to the person left alive, but only the person left alive retains the tools to process grief and move on. The ghosts in this gorgeously sad story are left waiting for an answer to a question that evaporated into the ether long ago.

Pensive, precise and with an elegant, looping structure, this is a first-rate piece of direction from Lowery, who also wrote the screenplay. He employs minimal use of flashbacks, but there is one key moment – M listening to a new composition by her husband – that brings a whole new dimension to the raw emotion of the story.

With long spells without dialogue, and long takes without editing, Lowery leans on Daniel Hart’s lush, string-heavy score. There’s an unassuming beauty to the music: it’s ascendant but hesitant, hinting at the assumed trajectory of souls after death.

The film is also notable for Rooney Mara’s finest work since Carol . Her grief is luminous but low key – the camera seeks her out in close-up, framed in a boxy 1:33 aspect ratio, capturing the barely perceptible flickers of pain. There’s a harrowing four-minute shot in which she eats an entire chocolate pie, seeking something – anything – to fill the emptiness of grief. But the moment that really choked me comes just before. She throws something in the kitchen bin and then freezes, gazing, numb, at the discarded remnants of her former life, the life that until the day before she had shared with her man. It’s a subtly devastating jolt of realisation that everything has changed, for ever.

  • A Ghost Story
  • The Observer
  • Science fiction and fantasy films
  • Casey Affleck
  • Rooney Mara

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A Ghost Story

2017, Drama/Fantasy, 1h 30m

What to know

Critics Consensus

A Ghost Story deftly manages its ambitious themes through an inventive, artful, and ultimately poignant exploration of love and loss. Read critic reviews

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Where to watch a ghost story.

Rent A Ghost Story on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, or buy it on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu.

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A ghost story videos, a ghost story   photos.

A passionate young couple, unexpectedly separated by a shocking loss, discover an eternal connection and a love that is infinite.

Rating: R (Brief Language|A Disturbing Image)

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Original Language: English

Director: David Lowery

Producer: Toby Halbrooks , James M. Johnston , Adam Donaghey

Writer: David Lowery

Release Date (Theaters): Jul 7, 2017  limited

Release Date (Streaming): Jul 10, 2017

Box Office (Gross USA): $1.6M

Runtime: 1h 30m

Distributor: A24

Production Co: Scared Sheetless

Cast & Crew

Casey Affleck

Rooney Mara

Kenneisha Thompson

Grover Coulson

Man in Wheelchair

Liz Cardenas

Barlow Jacobs

Gentleman Caller

Will Oldham

Prognosticator

Sonia Acevedo

Rob Zabrecky

Pioneer Man

Carlos Bermudez

David Lowery

Screenwriter

Toby Halbrooks

James M. Johnston

Adam Donaghey

David Maddox

Executive Producer

Andrew Droz Palermo

Cinematographer

Film Editing

Daniel Hart

Original Music

Production Design

Annell Brodeur

Costume Design

Tisha Blood

Matthew Taylor

News & Interviews for A Ghost Story

2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards Winners Announced: Get Out Wins Best Feature

Awards Leaderboard: Top Movies of 2017

Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Winners Announced: Phantom Thread Awarded Best Picture

Critic Reviews for A Ghost Story

Audience reviews for a ghost story.

Thought-provocative and emotionally evocative, A Ghost Story is an existential and atmospheric drama. When a young man is killed in a car accident he becomes a ghost, trapped in his house, forced to watch as his wife deals with her grief, moves on, and new people come and go. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara lead the cast, but they don't really give performances as such since the film is mostly dialog free. Using visual storytelling, the film explores such themes as the nature of existence, solitude, and reflection. And director David Lowery employs a unique aesthetic, choosing a rounded full frame aspect radio and a muted color palette. Yet it's extremely slow paced, and often gets caught up in the mundane. A Ghost Story presents an interesting vision, but the artistry can get a little too abstract.

ghost stories movie parents guide

A slow, depressing meditation on loss and legacy. If you can get through the snail-slow pace of the film (Mara Rooney eats a whole pie on the floor in a static shot without a single cut), it eventually pays off, but it will try your patience. Unless you are into artsy movies, avoid at all costs. Interesting characters would have helped.

If a movie is boring on purpose, is it still boring? Well, as it turns out: Yes. But props for trying something different.

Profoundly melancholy and devastatingly sad, A Ghost Story is a beautiful film about memory, loneliness and longing for something you lost forever. Full review on filmotrope. com

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The Beekeeper

Jason Statham in The Beekeeper (2024)

In The Beekeeper, one man's brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as "Beekeepe... Read all In The Beekeeper, one man's brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as "Beekeepers". In The Beekeeper, one man's brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as "Beekeepers".

  • Kurt Wimmer
  • Jason Statham
  • Emmy Raver-Lampman
  • Bobby Naderi
  • 4 User reviews
  • 54 Critic reviews
  • 52 Metascore

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  • Trivia This is Jason Statham's fifth film in the last year.
  • Crazy credits The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Miramax logos are surrounded by a swarm of buzzing bees.
  • Soundtracks Breath Performed by RiLLA* Written by James Damon Woodford

User reviews 4

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  • Jan 10, 2024
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  • January 12, 2024 (United States)
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  • Runtime 1 hour 45 minutes

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COMMENTS

  1. Ghost Stories (TV Series 2000-2001)

    Parents Guide Add to guide Showing all 35 items Jump to: Certification Sex & Nudity (13) Violence & Gore (7) Profanity (8) Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking (2) Frightening & Intense Scenes (4) Spoilers (1) Certification Edit Sex & Nudity Moderate 17 of 39 found this moderate

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    Parents Need to Know Parents need to know that Ghost Stories is an English horror anthology that's probably weirder than it is scary, but it might appeal to the more adventurous horror fans among older teens. Language is the biggest issue, with several uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. There are also plenty of jump scares and… Videos and Photos

  3. Ghost Stories (2020)

    Parents Guide Add to guide Showing all 13 items Jump to: Certification Sex & Nudity (4) Violence & Gore (6) Profanity (1) Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking (1) Frightening & Intense Scenes (1) Certification Edit Sex & Nudity Mild 9 of 22 found this mild First story: A woman straddles a man while he is laying down and they kiss passionately.

  4. Ghost Stories movie review & film summary (2018)

    Goodman is contacted by Charles Cameron, a paranormal investigator from the '70s who inspired him as a boy. Cameron is Goodman's role model, a similar practitioner of deconstructionist television, a man who disproved supernatural phenomena. Cameron has been long-considered dead, but he's actually living in a mobile home, clinging to life.

  5. A Ghost Story (2017)

    Parents Guide Add to guide Showing all 12 items Jump to: Certification Sex & Nudity (3) Violence & Gore (3) Profanity (2) Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking (1) Frightening & Intense Scenes (2) Spoilers (1) Certification Edit Sex & Nudity Mild 64 of 135 found this mild A clothed couple are together in bed hugging and kissing.

  6. Kid reviews for Ghost Stories

    Read Ghost Stories reviews from kids and teens on Common Sense Media. Become a member to write your own review. ... 50 Modern Movies All Kids Should Watch Before They're 12 ... Parents' Guide to Podcasts Marketing Campaign. Common Sense Selections for Podcasts Apps. App Reviews and Lists. App Reviews ...

  7. Ghost Stories

    TRAILER 1:58 Ghost Stories 2017, Horror/Mystery & thriller, 1h 37m 85% Tomatometer 132 Reviews 59% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings What to know Critics Consensus Ghost Stories offers a...

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    Inspiring Movies January Binge Guide Ghost Stories 1h 37m Horror,Mystery & Thriller Directed By: Jeremy Dyson , Andy Nyman In Theaters: Apr 20, 2018 Streaming: Jul 17, 2018 IFC Films, Warp...

  9. A Ghost Story Movie Review

    Parents Need to Know Parents need to know that A Ghost Story is an artful, poetic meditation on life, death, love, place, and other things. Although it's not a horror movie (despite the title), it has a few brief moments of strong violence, including a dead body in a car crash (with a trickle of blood on his forehead) and a… Videos and Photos

  10. Watch Ghost Stories

    A woman faces dangers above and below the ocean's surface when her solo sailing trip in the Caribbean becomes a fight for survival. Accidentally left home alone, a plucky 8-year-old stands ready to defend his territory when a pair of bungling burglars set their sights on his house. The directors of Emmy-nominated "Lust Stories" (Zoya Akhtar ...

  11. Ghost Stories (2017 film)

    (December 2019) Ghost Stories is a 2017 British anthology horror film written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, based on their 2010 stage play of the same name. It stars Nyman reprising his role from the play, as a man devoted to debunking fraudulent psychics, who is tasked with solving three unexplained paranormal events.

  12. Ghost Story (1981)

    Ghost Story (1981) Parents Guide Add to guide Showing all 31 items Jump to: Certification Sex & Nudity (7) Violence & Gore (9) Profanity (2) Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking (1) Frightening & Intense Scenes (5) Spoilers (7) Certification Edit Sex & Nudity Moderate 10 of 25 found this moderate more full nudity in widescreen, other picture ratios.

  13. Movie Review: Three Misses, One Hit in Netflix's 'Ghost Stories'

    There's enough ambiguity here to keep you guessing - is this a story of multiple miscarriages, of a distant oedipal bond, of a lifelong guilt - but it struggles to find a sense of cohesion ...

  14. Ghost Stories

    Ghost Stories (学校の怪談 Gakkō no Kaidan, lit. "School Ghost Stories") is a 20-episode anime series created in 2000 by animation studio Pierrot and Aniplex for Fuji Television, based on a book series by Tōru Tsunemitsu. Ghost Stories was picked up for dubbing by ADV Studios in 2005. According to voice actor Greg Ayres, they were told to "do whatever it took to sell the show." The only ...

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    Show all movies in the JustWatch Streaming Charts. Streaming charts last updated: 5:50:17 AM, 01/08/2024 . Ghost Stories is 9691 on the JustWatch Daily Streaming Charts today. The movie has moved up the charts by 6060 places since yesterday. In the United States, it is currently more popular than Is This a Joke? but less popular than Heart and ...

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    Ghost Stories 2017 Directed by Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson The brain sees what it wants to see. Professor Phillip Goodman devotes his life to exposing phony psychics and fraudulent supernatural shenanigans.

  17. A Ghost Story movie review & film summary (2017)

    C (played by Casey Affleck) is a musician who lives with his wife M ( Rooney Mara) in a small house surrounded by undeveloped property somewhere in the vast flatness of Texas. C dies in a car crash early in the story but continues to linger on as a ghost, silently observing his wife's grief and her eventual exit from the home they once shared.

  18. Ghost Movie Review

    Parents need to know that Ghost is a 1990 movie in which Patrick Swayze is a recently murdered man who remains as a ghost in order to warn the love of his life (Demi Moore) of impending danger. There's no nudity, but plenty of alluring shots and implied lovemaking. One bad guy is squished between two vehicles… Videos and Photos Ghost

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    Every year, four affluent old friends -- Ricky Hawthorne (Fred Astaire), Sears James (John Houseman), Dr. John Jaffrey (Melvyn Douglas) and Edward Wanderley (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) -- meet to tell ...

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  23. A Ghost Story

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  24. The Beekeeper (2024)

    The Beekeeper: Directed by David Ayer. With Jason Statham, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Bobby Naderi, Josh Hutcherson. In The Beekeeper, one man's brutal campaign for vengeance takes on national stakes after he is revealed to be a former operative of a powerful and clandestine organization known as "Beekeepers".