GHOST LIGHT is the latest film from writer/director John Stimpson (The Legend of Lucy Keyes) that centers around an entitled actor who unleashes the curse surrounding Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. The film stars Cary Elwes (Saw), Danielle Campbell (Tell Me a Story), Shannyn Sossamon (Wayward Pines), Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons), Carol Kane (The Princess Bride), and Roger Bart (Hostel II). The film screened at the 2018 LA Film Festival on September 22nd.
Legend has it, that if you utter the word “Macbeth” in a theater, and you are not actually performing the infamous play, you will unleash a curse upon the production and performers, leading to potential injury or even death. One night, while alone practicing his lines, Thomas (Tom Riley), a talented, albeit entitled, actor lets out his anger over being the back-up to Alex (Caryl Elwes) a less talented, but more accomplished actor, by repeating the word “Macbeth” on stage. Upon doing so, he unknowingly lets loose the curse of the Scottish King which rains havoc and destruction upon the production resulting in deadly consequences for himself and the other performers.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until I was in line getting ready to be seated for this screening that I learned about the curse surrounding Macbeth. I’m not overly familiar with this play, other than what I learned in school, but had I known that there was a curse surrounding the saying of its name I’m almost positive I would have dived into learning way more about it earlier on in my life. What really sold me on wanting to see this film was the fact that both Cary Elwes and Roger Bart where in it, two actors that I thoroughly enjoy, and I’m happy to say that neither one of them disappointed. Even more so, the film’s performances as a whole were fantastic and whoever was responsible for casting did a brilliant job of picking the right actors for their accompanying roles. It was also a nice surprise to see Carol Kane in the film as I’ve been a fan of hers since the first time she graced my television screen in my all-time favorite film The Princess Bride.
Though one could categorize this as a horror movie, there was much more to it than the singular genre portrayed. Sprinkled heavily throughout were moments of genuine humor, mostly brought on by the incredible Cary Elwes, as his character stumbled along with learning the lines to Macbeth and being distracted by shiny daggers. However, along with the humor there is a layer of tragedy, a focus on feelings of failure and disappointment with themes of jealousy, envy, and malicious intent. The character that embodies this the most is Liz (Shannyn Sossamon) who drowns her sorrows, and unending disappointment surrounding her marriage to Alex, in alcohol on a consistent basis. I wouldn’t say I came out of this film feeling bad for her, as I believe she got what she wanted in the end, but as someone who is sober, I felt what her character was feeling in hiding her emotions through the use of alcohol.
As for the horror aspects, you won’t be subjected to anything that involves extreme violent, but deaths do occur. As soon as Thomas utters the word Macbeth”, the supernatural entities begin to manifest themselves in different forms, mainly focusing on Thomas and Liz. I would say that the horror that’s embedded in this film is more geared towards the thematics of tragedy, but there are a few jump scares and the ending does provide some ghoulish delights that I thoroughly enjoyed. There was even one moment in particular where I found myself shocked with what they ended up showing but also applauding the director for taking a risk when so many would have chosen to not show anything.
All in all, GHOST LIGHT was an enjoyable horror/comedy that taught me quite a bit about Shakespeare as well as the curse surrounding Macbeth. Though I could easily see this film not being everyone’s cup of tea, I would still recommend it to those who are looking for a unique horror film that doesn’t just rely on bloodshed and carnage. Fans of ghost stories and Shakespeare will find a lot to enjoy with GHOST LIGHT.