July 17, 2019

Winnipeg
20° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

A unique tale of what haunts us

Low-key social realism meets spooky effects in unconventional ghost story

COUZIN FILMS</p><p>Larissa Corriveau playes Adèle from Ghost Town Anthology.</p>

COUZIN FILMS

Larissa Corriveau playes Adèle from Ghost Town Anthology.

The dead don’t die in this subdued and eerily strange drama, but Ghost Town Anthology isn’t a standard ghost story.

Director Denis Côté (Curling, Boris sans Béatrice), loosely adapting the novel Répertoire des villes disparues by Quebec writer Laurence Olivier, is more concerned with charting the slow demise of small rural communities.

Blending low-key social realism with sudden spooky effects, Côté shows us a town haunted by memory, grief and failed hopes.

And also by dead people.

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

Already have an account? Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

The dead don’t die in this subdued and eerily strange drama, but Ghost Town Anthology isn’t a standard ghost story.

Director Denis Côté (Curling, Boris sans Béatrice), loosely adapting the novel Répertoire des villes disparues by Quebec writer Laurence Olivier, is more concerned with charting the slow demise of small rural communities.

Blending low-key social realism with sudden spooky effects, Côté shows us a town haunted by memory, grief and failed hopes.

And also by dead people.

The film, which is in French with English subtitles, starts abruptly with a car skidding on a winter road and driving into a half-built wall.

Twenty-one-year-old Simon Dubé is killed, but we aren’t sure of the exact circumstances.

His mother (Josée Deschênes), father (Jean-Michel Anctil) and older brother, Jimmy (Robert Naylor), grieve his death, all three actors delivering strong, understated performances.

Gradually, the town’s mourning seems to draw out something hidden, and we begin to suspect Simon has somehow come back.

There are some parallels here to the French TV series The Returned (and its U.S. remake), as well as Glitch, an Australian take on this idea.

Côté’s approach is almost perversely low-key, however. His overall esthetic is austere and wintry — literally wintry, relying on a grey and white palette of snow, rock and ice.

The horror effects are minimalist but effective, often chillingly so.

We see children in odd costumes and masks; we hear mysterious sounds in upstairs rooms; we see strangers standing still and silent in a January field.

Sometimes, Côté shows only the living and their reactions to these unknown presences, and that’s often the most unsettling thing of all.

The sense of the supernatural is always paralleled — sometimes, a bit too obviously — by social commentary.

In this remote town of 215 souls, the mine has closed down, houses sit abandoned, the young people have left for the city.

At Simon’s funeral, the desperately upbeat mayor (Diane Lavallée) harangues the community.

She fears, perhaps rightly, that his death poses an existential threat to her fragile town.

Côté is both clear-eyed and compassionate in his depiction of the residents, suggesting a thin line where tradition, community and self-sufficiency can sometimes shift over into insularity, isolation and fear.

There is a powerful sense of place in Ghost Town Anthology, but also something cool and remote in Côté’s approach.

Sometimes, the symbolism overwhelms the human element, and the art-house conceptualizing sits uneasily with the genre touches.

But maybe that in-between tone fits a town where the dead now outnumber the living.

alison.gillmor@freepress.mb.ca

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor
Writer

Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us