GHOST TOWN ANTHOLOGY ( Répertoire des villes disparues)(Canada 2019) ***
Directed by Denis Côté
Before appreciating the small budget pensive drama GHOST TOWN ANTHOLOGY, a bit of background on its writer/director Denis Côté should be worthy of note.
Denis Côté is a Quebecois direct born in New Brunswick. He is known as an experimental filmmaker with five of his previous film with no scripts and 5 with scripts. In films like his documentary BEASTAIRE, he had lots of footage he shot at the zoo and wondered what to to with the footage before assembling the footage into a coherent film. The films of Denis Côté have been respected over the years and a number of cinematheques around the world have already organized retrospectives of his work. Personally, I admire Denis Côté's work. They are pensive, meticulously crafted and intelligently conceived.
His latest work, GHOST TOWN ANTHOLOGY has its experimental roots but is arguably his most accessible wok to date. The film bears his trademarks like carcasses of dead animals that are frequently found in the story - in this case a dead deer. The film can be described as a different kind of zombie (or ghost) film. Zombies appear in the film but no one is hurt. No one attacks the zombies and as a result the zombies do not attack the town folk either. But they appear and the villagers recognize them as being previous dead residents. If all this sounds too weird or feels that this is not your kind of movie that stay away - but the film definitely has its rewards.
The film is set in the small town of Sainte-Irénée-les-Neiges, Quebec with a population of only 215. The film opens with a car on a road that swerves to the side hitting stacks of hard objects casing the death of its driver, revealed soon to be a leading respected citizen of the town who everyone loves. The town is shocked and speechless. They claim the death as as suicide but from the scene, it looks more like the car took a deliberate turn, implying a suicide. Suicide or accident? The inhabitants of the town struggle to cope with the death of Simon Dubé, the teenage son of the family. The odd thing is that two figures wearing masks witness the crash and are seen running away from it after. More figures wearing these ‘ghostly’ masks appear later in the film as well. It is a small town where everyone knows everybody as she does, prides the mayor, Simone Smallwood (Diane Lavallee) who becomes visibly upset when the county sends a stranger to her town to help the people cope with the tragedy of a death. Director Cote knows how to grab and hold the audiences attention despite the film’s slow pace. More odd incidents occur as well as more characters are introduced into the story. A welfare teen is the first to see the zombies. The dead Simon appears to both his brother and mother.
GHOST TOWN ANTHOLOGY is another of Cote’s pensive teasers, so don’t expect any resolutions to the zombie crisis. Also: great sound effects and occasionally great gothic atmosphere.