Ghost Town Anthology is a 2019 French-Canadian film by Denis Côté, originally titled “Répertoire des villes disparues” and based loosely on a story by Laurence Olivier.
I went into this film with little knowledge of its plot. Purely based on the title and poster, I had expectations of dark horror and shock value scares. Thankfully, the reality couldn’t be further removed. Ghost Town Anthology is a gentle yet unnerving study around the effects that tragedy and grief it has on people individually and in a community at large.
The story is set in a small and isolated town in rural Sainte-Irénée-les-Neiges, Quebec, Canada. The bleak and colourless snow-covered landscape gives a stark contrast to the appearance of an ever growing swarm of shadowy deceased figures starting with the Simon Dubé, a young teenage boy who’s tragic death opens the film.
When dead figures begin to appear, we are generally led to believe that it won’t be a good thing for the remaining living characters. However, the ghosts here do not speak, nor do they physically attack. Instead, they are silent and stoic, but heavily present as the film progresses. They are mostly a cause of confusion rather than concern or panic for the living population.
Not a lot of plot points get resolved in the course of the film. From the identity of the playful masked children, to why we suddenly see a main character suspended and levitating in a field for the remainder of the film. The circumstances surrounding the death of Simon are questioned throughout, although a consensus is never reached. Normally, the lack of resolution in a film would sometimes lead me to leaving the cinema frustrated. However, Ghost Town Anthology’s unanswerable plot and inconclusive ending was surprisingly highly fulfilling.
The only frustration here was the lack of people in the near empty cinema to witness this cinematic gem at the 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival.