The winner of this year’s EIFF Best New British Feature award, Skeletons is a very British take on a premise not a millions miles from cult-favourite Ghostbusters. In it we see Bennett and Davis going to clients houses and using psychic energy to access inhabitant’s memories, telling them things they were unwilling to reveal to their loved ones themselves.
As the film progresses, we see them being offered the chance of promotion if they can crack the case of a husband who disappeared years previously. Bennett, who empathises more than the job requires; and Davis, dangerously addicted to accessing his own fondest memories, jump at the chance and are determined to crack the case.
There’s something pleasingly British about Skeletons. The way the two leads are so familiar with their jobs, it’s become almost mundane; the way their clients react to finding out about secrets – surprise underpinned by reserve; and the beautifully grey countryside that surrounds their lives.
The tone of the movie is somewhat in keeping with the movies of Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Being John Malkovich). It never fully explains how the technique our two protagonists uses works, or how they got the ability to do it. Instead we get a whole load of jargon about ‘glow-chasing’ and ‘the procedure’. Of course, far from putting the audience off, it forces us to look further into this strangely mundane fairly-tale world.
The emotional thrust of the movie shows both the pain and nostalgia of memories. We see how characters both try and escape memories that continue to cause them pain; as well as revisit those which give them comfort. Interlaced with an incredibly offbeat and deadpan sense of humour: this is a film that engulfs you in the world it creates, holding back just enough to keep you peering closer.
Skeletons’ attention to detail and conviction in its own world make it a very compelling film to watch. Its the type of film that has ‘cult classic’ written all over it and deserves to get a much wider audience than I fear it may receive.