Yes, this job is dangerous and slightly illegal. All they have to do is buy a gun from a mysterious dealer looking for quick cash. Hesitant yet desperate, Ciara accepts the job as she’s assured nothing will go wrong. Yeah right.
When Ciara and Peter arrive at the dealer’s home, they discover the dealer is the famed crime novelist Joseph Skinner (Grahame Edwards). He has the gun, but thanks to an administrative mix-up, the courier with the money won’t arrive until the next day. Seeing red flags, Ciara wants to bail, but she won’t get paid, so they reluctantly stay at Skinner’s home for the night. Of course, Skinner has some secrets Ciara and Peter are unaware of…I mean, he is a crime novelist.
Talking to Ghosts is a thriller in dramatic clothing. I mention this because the way the film is shot may throw you off a bit. Hoping not to let my prejudice come through, but filmmaker Smith’s film comes across as very British. Here in the States, thrillers build tension through suspenseful music, quick cuts, and mood lighting. Here, the thriller part of the tale just plays out in dramatic fashion with no frills or fake American thriller tropes to rely on.
“When Ciara and Peter arrive…they discover the dealer is the famed crime novelist Joseph Skinner…”
In reviewing the film, the use or non-use of these tropes will stand out a lot. I appreciated the fact that Smith did not rely on cinematic tricks to tell his story, but at the same time, it could have used a trick or two. This is where I wrestle with Talking to Ghosts the most, as the film comes across more as a drama when it has psychological thriller elements to it. Ultimately, the film would have found a good home somewhere between a drama and a thriller.
For an independent film, Talking to Ghosts is a well-crafted film with an interesting story of a crime novelist who has himself embroiled in a crime that he would have written. This film is all about the performances. Nina Holland-Smith is the highlight of the film. She gives an every-person performance in that this could be you or me if we were desperate for some quick cash…or excitement in life. Grahame Edwards is affable, yet creepy, as the slightly eccentric author, and Jake Waring is equally good as the confident thug.
In the end, Ryan J. Smith has a great indie filmmaker career ahead of him. Overall, the film is worth watching, but its tone is where Talking to Ghosts just falls short. The job that Ciara and Peter are on is inherently dangerous, but ultimately what’s missing is the immediate sense of danger at all times.
For more information about Talking to Ghosts, visit the Skint Film official website.