Readers of my blogs and interviews know that I am a ghost story fanatic. Fully three shelves of my large library are taken up with ghost anthologies, the great majority of which I’ve read cover to cover. I’m not talking about horror – which I often find less scary than traumatic. I’m riveted by the specter at the corner of your eye, the woman staring at you from a distance, the man you pass on the sidewalk who died three years before. I love the subtle chill up the spine and the hint of the uncanny.
So here are two good ghostly tales, one film, one book:
A film from Australia, written and directed by Joel Anderson, Lake Mungo is terrific. Done in a pure, near-perfect documentary style without gore or what they call in the industry “boo scares,” it nonetheless had me wholly unnerved. There are one or two story problems which keep this from being a classic, but boy oh boy is it a spooky blast. My thanks to my buddy Neal Edelstein (who was co-executive producer on The Ring, another of my favorites) for passing this on to me.
Then there’s one for young adults I stumbled onto: Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. Nothing too terrible for kids, but still some nice chills and first rate characters. Goes a little wonky and moralistic just at the end, but still works extremely well. I’d never heard of Hahn before, then went to an after Edgar party last week and found she’d won for Best Juvenile for Closed For The Season. Which goes to show I know how to pick em.