Ghosts of the Ozarks (2021) – Film Review
Directors: Matt Glass and Jordan Wayne Long
Cast: Thomas Hobson, Tara Perry, Phil Morris
By Roger Crow
If 1987 indie Ghostriders is an example of how not to make a low budget spooky Western, then this is the polar opposite. Smart, weird, beautifully made and with a terrific cast of folks you might recognise, and many you won’t.
A feature-length version of a 2016 short, Matt Glass and Jordan Wayne Long seemingly had no trouble stretching a seven-minute story to 107 mins.
If you’re a fan of High Plains Drifter, The Wicker Man and a certain other movie which shall remain nameless in case it spoils the twist, then you’re in for a treat.
Though the set-up feels like old The Twilight Zone episode ‘The Passerby’, this version of post-Civil War Arkansas benefits from full colour, though I’m guessing a monochrome version would work just as well.
Thomas Hobson is terrific as James McCune, the maimed doc seeking Norfork, a fortress town. Following an attack by a stranger, who is yanked into an eerie fog, James luckily finds where he needs to be… and the locals are lovely. A little too nice in fact, which usually means they have something to hide.
They include a blind barman, attractive medic/huntress Annie and her Hodor-style brother, William.
Matthew McCune is James’s engaging uncle and town VIP. A man of substance and clearly someone to respect. So while locals mine for gas, James tends to the sick, and that strange fog attacks the townsfolk occasionally.
The multi-skilled Glass and Long wore many hats on this production, as did Ms Perry (one of the producers and writers), who I imagine will be catapulted to stardom in some major franchise.
And don’t be surprised if the foot-tapper ‘On This Mountain’ gets under your skin, especially as it’s reprised during the closing credits.
Look out for Scream veteran David Arquette (another producer) among the supporting cast, and yes, that pay-off might be reminiscent of a mainstream 2004 chiller, which I still won’t reveal the name of, but this is still a compelling watch regardless.