Review: CLARA’S GHOST Is A Quirky Horror-Comedy

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Paula Niedert Elliottas Clara in “CLARA’S GHOST”, a film by Orion Classics. Photo courtesy of Orion Classics.

Clara’s Ghost is a new film written and directed by Bridey Elliot and starring Elliot and her family. The movie is about a woman who finds solace from the constant drama of her showbusiness family in a supernatural entity that inhabits their home. It debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews.

If you have ever wondered what a horror film made by Hal Ashby would be like, look no further. This movie is an always odd, frequently amusing, and often interesting blend of quirky comedy and supernatural horror. This probably seems like a combination that wouldn’t work, but surprisingly, it mostly does.

The main thing that makes this film so appealing is that it is so ambiguous for most of its runtime. You are trying to figure out not only what is happening, but what the movie is trying to say and even what it wants to be. Every once in a while, this does begin to become somewhat aggravating, but when everything comes together, the reward is great.

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Isidora Goreshter as Adelia in“CLARA’S GHOST”, a film by Orion Classics. Photo courtesy of Orion Classics.

The film does meander a few times, though. In some scenes, it seems to lose track of its plot and begins to feel more loosely contemplative. This would have been fine if this were the intention; however, this seemed less like a deliberate move and more like a side-track.

The movie also struggles with character development. Obviously, the protagonist’s family is not meant to be likable, as the story is literally about her trying to get away from her family drama. The protagonist should be compelling, though, and she just isn’t sympathetic enough. At times, we sympathize with her because of how awful her family is, but there is nothing else to make her appeal to the audience further.

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(L-R) Abby Elliott as Julie and Bridey Elliott asRileyin the “CLARA’S GHOST”, a film by Orion Classics. Photo courtesy of Orion Classics.

In fact, the most interesting and sympathetic character is an outsider, played by Haley Joel Osment. He is as charming as ever in the role, adding a lot of comedy to the film. That being said, he plays the lovable fool character, and that character doesn’t have enough impact on the story. If only the characters that truly impacted the story were more compelling.

The execution is great, though. The visual style is very retro and works quite well. The whole movie has a grainy, homemade feel to it that makes it more immersive and absorbing. The music is also refreshingly old-school and lends it a classy, retro vibe.

Overall, Clara’s Ghost is a solid film with an interesting tone and premise. Although it does stumble a few times, especially towards the middle, it is a unique and satisfying watch.

Clara’s Ghost opens in theaters December 6 and is on VOD beginning December 7.

By Sean Boelman

Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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