by Mark L. Miller
If you’re the type of filmgoer who likes everything explained out in a cookie cutter manner, the experimental immersion that is I AM A GHOST is not going to be something for you. But if your definition of film is a bit looser, a bit more accepting of uncommon narrative structure, a bit less reliant on the typical, I’m thinking it’s going to have the same impactful effect on you as it did me.
The film opens silently as a woman wakes from her bed, goes about her daily chores, makes breakfast, and goes out for some grocery shopping. Everything focuses on this one woman, who we eventually come to know as Emily (Anna Ishida), who walks around in the same white dress in the same house doing the same routine over and over. Soon we see Emily look at something in a room we can’t see into, scream, and then run away. Then Emily and the viewer hear a noise in a scene that happens some time later. Then we cut to Emily getting sick in the sink and moaning painfully. Then there’s a shot of her holding a knife as if she is about to stab something that isn’t there. Then back to the same old routine, incorporating these more bizarre moments.
It isn’t until deep into the routine that Emily hears the voice of a medium, who clues Emily in that she is (as the title of the film suggests) a ghost and that the medium is there to guide her to her next destination—wherever that may be. Reluctant to believe the voice, Emily tries to rationalize this situation which leads to a dissection of her own mind and the reason why she is stuck in this old house reliving the same moments over and over. It’s a heady reason. One with not an easy answer. And the viewer must have a lot of patience to get to it.
The thing is, though it may take some patience to sit through the first three quarters of I AM A GHOST, the last quarter of this film contains images and actions that scared me in ways that took me back to childhood. Without giving away the final moments of I AM A GHOST, I will say that the horrific trip Emily takes is one that will jolt you right out of your seat. Actress Anna Ishida carries this entire film as she is, for the most part, the only one the camera focuses on and must convey a broad range of emotion here as a ghost trying desperately to find her way out of this house of horrors.
Presented with rounded edges as if it is being presented in an old timey picture album and filmed on grindhousey aged film stock, I AM A GHOST is a unique independent gem which saves its scares for last, but WHOA NELLY, what scares they are. I can’t recommend this film more. I AM A GHOST will definitely have your hairs standing on end in the final moments and patiently lures you in to its seemingly harmless confines before burrowing into your soul.