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Urban Ghost Story (1998)
Director: Genevieve Jolliffe
review by Gary Couzens
Glasgow. A car accident, and 12-year-old Lizzie's (Heather Ann Foster) best friend is dead. As Lizzie lies on the tarmac, for three minutes she 'dies' and is taken into the light... only to be revived by paramedics. Months later, Heather is living with her mother Kate (Stephanie Buttle) halfway up a decrepit tower block, both trying to come to terms with the accident and its aftermath. Then strange things begin to happen: furniture begins to move of its own accord, and it soon becomes clear that when Lizzie was brought back to life, something came with her...
Genevieve Jolliffe is in the record books as the youngest producer of a feature film, with the straight-to-video SF movie The Runner, directed by her partner in Living Spirit Films, Chris Jones. White Angel, again produced by Jolliffe and directed by Jones, followed. With Urban Ghost Story, the two swapped roles. (The film premiered at the 1998 Edinburgh Film Festival; its release was delayed due to problems with its sales company.) Shot in 16mm on a clearly very low budget, Urban Ghost Story uses its limited means to good effect: there's a strong sense of reality to the film, aided by the grainy camerawork and the use of particularly rundown parts of Glasgow as locations. Without a lavish special effects budget, Jolliffe relies on suggestion (especially via the soundtrack) and a good performance from her young lead actress. The film sticks to the facts of poltergeist infestation, perhaps too much so: the documentary material has a somewhat flattening effect on the drama. That said, Urban Ghost Story shows commendable resource on an obviously pitiful budget, and I'd be interested to see what its makers do next.
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