GHOSTWRITTEN is a new thriller with a supernatural twist. It has a great story that gets a bit too lost in style over substance. A shame really, because the story has potential for so much more. Read our full Ghostwritten movie review here!

GHOSTWRITTEN is a ghost thriller, which may sound very vague. And it is, but this one has a story that could’ve resulted in a truly great movie. It’s just that there are so many “artsy” twists in the storytelling that it ends up being style over substance.

Fortunately, the casting is on point and these actors always deliver. This results in a movie that you can’t let go of, but once the entire story unfolds, I almost got angry that it wasn’t told in a better way. Maybe that’s just me, but I simply adored the plot and was not a fan of the style.

Continue reading our Ghostwritten movie review below. Find it on Digital from February 9, 2024.

Great plot and cast

In Ghostwritten, we meet an author who is struggling to write his second novel. Writer Guy Laury (Jay Duplass) has been clinging to the reputation of his one-hit novel. Each day with more and more desperation. He just cannot seem to get beyond staring at a blank page.

That’s why he is quick to accept a winter residency on a reclusive island. Finally, he believes he will have the needed peace and quiet for inspiration to come. At first, the residents on this island seem friendly, but there’s always the sense that something is off.

Then Guy discovers a lost manuscript. It both inspires and takes over, as he discovers its contents may be connected to a local murder case. What to do with this newfound source? And why is everyone on this island acting so weird?!

Along with Jay Duplass in the lead role as author Guy Laury, there’s a wonderful cast to take on the many supporting roles. Kate Lyn Sheil (She Dies Tomorrow, The Seeding) is both the pilot who takes him there in a tiny airplane and the local bartender. One who lends a sympathetic ear to both Guy and everyone else.

Maria Dizzia (The Good Nurse, School Spirits) works at the library and knows all about the history of this place, while Thomas Jay Ryan (Hal Hartley’s Henry Fool trilogy) portrays another writer living on the island as a permanent resident.

Ghostwritten – Review | Ghost Thriller | Jay Duplass

Style over substance

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t like filmmaking when it becomes style over substance. And I get especially miffed when a movie turns out to have a brilliant story and covers it up in all sorts of chronological jumps.

Look, it’s a compliment really, because if Ghostwritten had featured an average story, I wouldn’t care as much. But it doesn’t. It has a great story.

There’s a distinct Peter Strickland vibe to the style, which I can absolutely enjoy and appreciate. However, it’s turned up to 110% with the added element of being jumbled chronologically and largely shot in black and white.

Now, I did like the lack of color because when bursts of color do appear, they force you to pay attention. Yet, it still ended up getting too lost in style over substance. A shame because the story has potential for so much more.

Watch Ghostwritten on Digital

Thomas Matthews is the writer and director of Ghostwritten, which has certainly stayed with me. I have to give any filmmaker credit for this. Especially when it’s due to me loving the story. This is his solo debut after having co-written and co-directed the 2019 movie Lost Holiday with Michael Kerry Matthews (the two are brothers).

Ultimately, I recommend that you watch Ghostwritten for the story and cast, but I would love to watch this story told straightforwardly. There is so much potential here that goes unfulfilled which is my biggest pet peeve.

The Peter Strickland vibe is fine with me (including the score that almost becomes a character), but I’d be thrilled to focus on this amazing story instead of tricks. My rating would be much higher.

Ghostwritten is out On Digital from February 9, 2024.


Written & Directed by: Thomas Matthews
Cast: Jay Duplass, Maria Dizzia, Kate Lyn Sheil, Thomas Jay Ryan


Clinging to the reputation of his one hit novel, writer Guy Laury (Jay Duplass) accepts a winter residency on a reclusive island whose residents seem friendly at first. The discovery of a lost manuscript and its possible ties to a longstanding local murder case, however, throw into question the intentions of everyone around him.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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