Ghost Town Anthology (Répertoire des Villes Disparues) (2019)


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This sober and creepy tale has an inexorable pull that keeps you watching despite what seems at first to be a simple story.

The opening scene is a car crash and the resultant death of 21-year-old Simon sends the small town of Irénée-les-Neiges, with a population of 251, into a fragmented grief spiral. Simon’s brother Jimmy (Robert Naylor), mother Gisèle (Josée Deschênes) and father Romuald (Jean-Michel Anctil) struggle in different ways to cope and can’t seem to provide each other with any real solace. Mayor Smallwood (Diane Lavallée) is full of pragmatism and bullishness, confident she can fix it all with psychology and leadership. Fragile Adèle (Larissa Corriveau) lives her life with fear and anxiety and is one of the first to realise that the dead people of the town are beginning to congregate on its margins.

There are a few themes here that seem to interweave. Industry has disappeared and many townspeople, Simon included, want to move to bigger cities. Grief and sorrows of the past that we try to ignore and ways of coping become tangible and apparent to all. Those we love become strangers who we fear and want to hurt or exclude when we can’t understand what they need.

Not a horror per se, it nevertheless uses music and delicious suspense and horror tropes to slowly wind up the tension. It doesn’t build to any easy resolution, in fact the final shot is so loaded it’s tempting to try and read meaning into its enigma. There is also no clear right nor wrong, just lots of different ways of coping.

Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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