Ever experience writer’s block before?  I think it comes with the territory of being a writer.  There’s nothing more threatening than snow on a blank screen or the icy frost on a piece of paper.  Write the words, damn you!  It can be a very frightening experience which is why it is such an effective horror trope and why it will continue to be one, too.

Fortunately, writer/director Thomas MatthewsGhostwritten has the cure for this dreaded curse . . . and it will leave you shaking.

"will leave you shaking"

Low in budget but high with atmosphere, Ghostwritten takes a familiar set-up - a writer without a clue on how to begin his next work is offered solace on an isolated location to write within - and soon hooks its audience with just the sheer oddness of this reclusive island.  Sure, everyone seems quite friendly at first, but writer Guy Laury (Jay Duplass) is in for one hell of a Wicker Man-like shock when he finds himself distrusting all that he sees or experiences on this strange Nantucket island.

And it’s this strangeness which lures the audience into the dynamics of this creeping terror.  When you have little money to spend on a film, it’s wise to amplify the oddness and soak in the sounds of what Gary perceives as a haunted house.  And Matthews is expertly drawing us in as Gary (who is wonderfully portrayed by Duplass)  tries to live up to the reputation of his book and write another successful banger for his audience. 

Or at least that’s the plan. Ghostwritten

But the haunted house has other plans and even the residents, who are rather awesome at being so damn strange, are little help as they distract him with hushed whispering.  But it’s the discovery of a lost manuscript and its possible ties to a longstanding local murder case that really get things spiraling out of control for him.

Suddenly, he is questioning everyone and everything and this bout of intense paranoia finds no solace in the actions of everyone around him.  Starring Kate Lyn Sheil (She Dies Tomorrow), Maria Dizzia (While We're Young), and Thomas Jay Ryan (Hal Hartley's Henry Fool trilogy), Ghostwritten is an atmospheric gem thanks to its use of black-and-white photography and cinematographer Daryl Pittman’s knack for capturing poetic pulses soaked with neuroticism and then merging the oddness with intense splashes of color.

With plenty of twists and turns, Ghostwritten achieves the EERIE by holding us down in some very strange and muddied waters.  It’s a promising debut for Matthews and company.  The film is available On Demand from Cranked Up on February 9th.

4/5 stars

Film Details


MPAA Rating: Unrated.

: Thomas Mathews
Thomas Mathews
Maria Dizzia; Jay Duplass; Declan Eells
: Thriller

Memorable Movie Quote: "What's the story worth?"
Cranked Up
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 8, 2024
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: 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.