Directed by: Eveshka Ghost
Exploring complex themes such as fear, bulimia and prejudice on a budget that could barely cover one crew member’s lunch on a standard independent film, there’s certainly no lacking in ambition with Eveshka Ghost’s debut The Granary, it’s just a shame the craft fails to match it.
Ghost delves into these ideas through the character of Pan (played by the director), a haunted young man suffering from agoraphobia and apparent eating disorders. He’s holed up in the titular building, in which the majority of the film takes place, set mainly in flashback during meetings with a psychiatrist.
The setting (a sizeable brick complex strewn with ladders and walkways) being so central to the film is a product of the tough time The Granary had in production: the building was rented for a grand sci-fi concept, before falling apart three times, with the final draft changing shape to be inspired by the building itself.
It’s a minor miracle anything got made, and Ghost certainly tries to make the most of every claustrophobic corner and every Caligari-inspired structure to mirror Pan’s collapsing mind. However, on screen, the building is disappointing, despite the reliance on Dutch angles and billowing clouds of dust. Rather than impose on its surroundings like Mandalay, it feels oddly sterile at times, looking more like a set used by a local amateur dramatics group than something truly memorable.
And really, that’s only the start of the problems here. The Granary is stunningly amateurish, never really getting past its budget or a frighteningly wooden array of non-actors filling the screen.
Of course, Kevin Smith faced similar problems with his debut Clerks, but where he created a lo-fi, compact story set across 90 minutes, The Granary tries to do too much with too little in terms of subject matter, stretching on to a bum-numbing two-and-a-half-hours.
The lack of dynamism in the pacing is the where it would most benefit from stricter pacing: we watch Pan climb up and down ladders, struggle into jumpers and read aloud from a diary in real time. Cutting these sequences is a fundamental basic of cinema, it’s what editing is for.
However, as a first film there are seeds of what Ghost could become as a #filmmaker. He himself is an enticing screen presence with a strange, ghoulish face that essays a world of pain and guilt in a single look, and the lighting often effective casts unsettling shadows. Additionally, the stranger the film becomes, the more interesting it is. In one particularly Lynchian scene, Pan is tormented by knights and body-stockinged demons as physical representations of his phobias: it’s an image that manages to be both strange and beautiful, but moments such as these are too infrequent.
Considering the battle that Ghost had to get his debut off the ground, he should be commended for getting it to the screen at all. But where inauspicious firsts from great directors worked within their tiny means with their debuts, here the project gets away from him.
With all the best will in the world, The Granary, as it stands, is nothing short of half-baked.