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I like my movies inside out and on the rocks. I like them confusing and like a splinter in the mind. Movies that fester and go sceptic are more my style. All that to say, my favorite movies may not be yours. But if you dig Thinc.ing – then, maybe? Maybe you might just get into The Ghoul. It isn’t the best mind job movie I have seen… heck, I’ve seen better in the last month. But as far as thoughtful mind jobs go, this is a worthwhile candidate in the pantheon of mobius strip mind splinters.
The high level on The Ghoul? Basically Chris, is assisting the police department in a double homicide. Two psychotherapists are killed, but in a strange and unnerving way. While being shot, they just continued walking towards the perpetrator even after taking a bullet to the head. The number one suspect is the landlord of the house, Michael Coulson, where they were staying… he took the job after the fact as he is constantly intrigued with these sorts of crimes. So, Chris, wanting to help, takes on the guise of a clinically depressed individual in need of help similar to what Coulson was being treated for.
But as I already told you this was a mind job – not everything is as it seems here apparently:
The Ghoul was an Official Selection of the BFI movie awards as well as an Official Selection of the British Independent Film Awards. The Ghoul is so low budget it is considered a micro-budget film. I wasn’t able to find out what it cost, but let’s just assume that it’d probably the budget would most probably fit on one of your bigger credit cards. But I will say this, it’s pedigree is incredibly good in my book seeing as though the Executive Producer was Ben Wheately, who was the director of Free Fire, which I recently told you all about.
All that to say, The Ghoul is a worth while introspective film genre that I have talked a lot about here on THinc. I’d tell you other movies like it, but it’d give the movie away in a heart beat, and how about let’s not do that, quite yet anyway. I enjoyed wondering where we were going and why we were here. It was fascinating from beginning to end, though not the most exactly unique of storylines ever. It was still a worthwhile watch and I really did enjoy it at the end of the day.
Ok? Now, what say we dive deeper in toe the movie itself. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you are definitely going to have to leave now, and come back after you’ve watched it. I believe it is widely available now on several of the big streaming services. Yup, Google Play, Youtube and Itunes all have it for a few bucks.
Deep Dive Into The Ghoul
As the movie opens we follow Chris, as he makes his way into a crime investigation. We learn later on that Chris is an independent investigator that is called in to help the police on potentially worrisome crimes like this one. Which, is a double homicide of two Pscyhotherapists. But the interesting thing about this murder is that the two people that were killed didn’t fall down dead until after the murderer fled the scene.
Immediately they begin suspected the newly hired landlord, Michael Coulson. They would love to know more about him and why he decided to take the job. And they had just discovered that he had been seeing a therapist right around the corner. So Chris volunteers to begin going to Dr. Fisher as well in order to learn what he can from her about Coulson. And so Chris tussles his hair, flips up his hoodie, and heads into his first session.
At first nothing really interesting happens. Sure, he rifles through her filing cabinets. And finds more details about Coulson which he has been following after sessions as well. But it only really starts to get intriguing when he finally tells Dr. Fisher that he sometimes has fantasies about things during the day. The key fantasy is that he is an ex-cop that was blamed for something he didn’t do, and consults with the police on the side about their high profile crimes that they can’t seem to crack.
The Mobius That Is The Ghoul
Now think about this for a second. Chris is an assistant to the police, who is working on this really difficult crime. He heads into therapy in order to learn more about Michael Coulson. Right? And in so doing, after a month of therapy he begins to tell her that he has fantasies of being an assistant to the cops who helps them solve their more difficult crimes. Immediately I knew that our initial story was rubbish and that in fact, Chris was actually just a depressive, who took solace in his fantasies of assisting the police. But, was that right? Maybe I had assumed too much.
But soon, Dr. Fisher gets sick (cancer? we’ll discuss this later) and shunts Chris and Michael both over to a different psychotherapist named Alexander Morland. Now Morland, he’s a strange duck. He believes in the brilliance and magic of therapy. He focuses on sigils and incantations. He focuses on alchemy and the darker arts of this world. During one session Morland tells Chris about his Klein bottle, a non-orientable surface bottle – you can start at one location and you can continue infinitely through the bottle. And he tells Chris that a true Klein bottle would be in 4 dimensions… the fourth being time… right?
Eventually Morland is attempting to distract Chris from his obvious depression and asks him to give his depression a name. And eventually, after a particularly vivid dream he tells Morland that it’s called “The Ghoul”. He tells Morland the Ghoul can be anywhere it wants to be, that it hollows you out… that others cannot see it. And people avoid you just to avoid having the Ghoul jump off of you and on to them. And the Ghoul absolutely has to be alone.
Theories About The Ghoul
Theory #1 Chris is Actually an Ex-Cop
But what if Chris actually is telling the truth? What if he really was an ex-cop that got busted for something he didn’t do? What if his cop friends know that he is actually a fantastic investigator that is exceptional with handling cold cases? And what if that skill leads him to conduct under cover investigations that the cops can’t do? That is, after all how the entire movie is set up. That is what the movie tells us what is actually happening.
Problems w/ Theory #1: Well, there shouldn’t be problems with this theory because it’s how we are told it happens. Except, the only time we are told this is at the very beginning. A few minutes later he (wink wink) tells his psychotherapist that he likes to fantasize about being an assistant to the police. Another problem with this theory? Save for the opening… we never really hear much about the cops and what he’s discovered. He continues investigating. But he’s not really reporting back to the cops anymore. He’s not really doing any real research on behalf of the cops anymore. But that fake depression? Seems to have really become who Chris actually is… it isn’t an act anymore. At first I thought that the periods of his lonely wanderings around the city were just the stories that he was telling his therapists. But as it continued on and on and on with little relief to this “fake under cover” research it becomes less and less probable.
Theory #2 Chris is Insane
The single most obvious theory for The Ghoul is just that Chris is just insane. That his attempt to play it off like he’s going under cover to help the cops is just a ploy to convince himself he isn’t nuts. Right? Oh sure sure, you help the cops out… wink wink. He even tells his first psychotherapist that he has these fantasies that he likes to help the cops out. That he is this Ghoulish hound that hangs out around crime scenes and plays it off like he helps the cops out as an expert ex-cop. Right? But he told Dr. Fisher the truth when he, wink wink, told her about his “fantasies”.
Problems w/ Theory #2: Not much. I mean, besides the fact that the movie tells us in the beginning that he isn’t insane, and that he is an ex-cop. But most of the data in this movie heavily points to the fact that Chris shouldn’t be on the streets… like at all. That he sees things. That he hears things that just can’t exist on a normal logical plane of human existence. Case closed? Maybe… let’s see.
Theory #3 Fisher & Morland are gods
The other extreme of this pendulum is that there is one more what if… and that what if is simple enough. What is the other extreme of what the story tells us actually is true. And that is, what if Dr Fisher and Dr Morland are actually gods? Alchemists that have figured out a way to become eternal?!? And this eternality is presupposed by their ability to keep The Ghoul, I mean Chris, within this eternal loop, which, up until this point anyway, they have managed to do.
Problems with Fisher & Morland as gods?
I’m guessing that this is the literal reading of this film. The problems are more cosmetic in nature. Like, um, maybe that that would be impossible. But regardless of that, it would seem that Morland has become able to avoid death for both himself and Fisher by continuously looping time back against itself. It seems like he is able to do this. Or, is it just that Chris is stark raving mad? There is no way to prove either theory really.
Other Movies Like The Ghoul
Triangle, Predestination, Primer, Arq, Stay, are all good places to start. What were your thoughts on The Ghoul? Do you have a thought as to what really happened? Love to hear about it in the comments!