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URBAN GHOST STORY

UK, 1998 (MIFF 1999, International Panorama)

Director: Genevieve Jolliffe

Horror film buffs will delight at Genevieve Jolliffe's debut. Chilling moments from classics including The Exorcist, Carrie, The Evil Dead, Poltergeist and as far back as Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963), register in this clever film. Rather than approach the project as a formulaic genre piece, Jolliffe leaves the explanation for peculiar events deliberately ambiguous to heighten the drama.

Are mysterious slamming doors, bumps and evil odours the result of a ghoulish infestation or just the quirks of a run-down high-rise flat? Is the home of Lizzie, a Glasgow teenager, a hotbed of activity from the 'Other Side', is she afflicted by demonic possession or is her strange, troubling behaviour the tragic aftershock of an Ecstasy-fuelled joyride? The ambiguity perfectly suits Jollifle's hijacking of the horror film to pass comment on teenage life in the urban jungle.

Sharply outlined against the underbelly of Scottish sociely, Lizzie's troubles begin as she lies on the road after a serious car accident. Drawn toward 'the light', she is pulled back to earthly existence when revived in the emergency room. Nightmares convince her that she should have died and that something attached itself to her before she returned to life. Her behaviour is initially dismissed as teenage attention-seeking but when her mother is confronted by bizarre occurrences, profes­sional para-psychological help is sought. The synergy between the modern and the macabre is perfectly realised and Jolliffe's film largely focuses on Lizzie's mental state, guilt and anxiety.

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