out of Five
Running time: 97
Ghosted has a promising first half, enlivened by strong performances and some powerful scenes, but it's ultimately let down by an unconvincing final act that fails to deliver the emotional goods.
What's it all about?
Directed by Craig Viveiros, Ghosted stars John Lynch as Falkhill Prison inmate Jack, who discovers that his wife is leaving him on the anniversary of the tragic death of his young son, who died while Jack was inside. When psychotic wing kingpin Clay (Craig Parkinson) sets his sights on young new arrival Paul (Martin Compston), Jack's paternal instincts are stirred up and he tries to steer Paul away from Clay's clutches, aided by his philosophical prison buddy Ahmed (Art Malik, underused).
In doing so, Jack quickly gets himself on Clay's radar, which leads to an extremely tense atmosphere with the threat of a stabbing (or worse) lurking round every corner. However, there are far darker surprises in store, courtesy of a sadistic, manipulative prison official (David Schofield).
The performances are excellent, particularly Craig Parkinson, who has long been a talented British supporting actor (you'll know the face – he's like a cut-price Paddy Considine) and who gets a chance to shine here as Clay, convincing as a vicious psychopath but also subtly revealing the terror lurking underneath the facade. Lynch is equally good and there's strong work from “Mumbles” Compston as Paul, who clearly didn't think his prison survival strategy through carefully enough.
It is hard to do a decent prison movie without slipping into the usual prison clichés but Ghosted at least handles the expected scenes well, notably with a very nasty shower sequence.
The main problem with the film is that it's not quite as clever as it thinks it is, drip-feeding information in a really obvious way so that the supposedly shocking final revelations are entirely predictable. Worse still, the final act is so contrived and ridiculous that it fails to convince on an emotional level and even threatens to stray into unintentionally laughable territory.
In addition, the pacing of the film slows to a crawl in the middle section and saps much of the accumulated tension in the process. There's also at least one glaring continuity error (keep an eye on Art Malik's glasses) that serves as an early distraction.
Despite strong performances and an effectively tense atmosphere, Ghosted is ultimately let down by a ridiculously contrived final act that raises more questions than it answers and fails to convince on an emotional level. If it's prison movie thrills you're after, go and see the excellent Cell 211 instead.