Ghost Stories (2020): Netflix’s Horror Anthology (Review)

Ghost Stories (2020): Netflix’s Horror Anthology (Review)

‘Ghost Stories’ is the new anthology horror film, a Netflix India Original, with four distinctive stories coming from the group of directors behind their previous anthology “Lust Stories“.

The horror film premiered on January 1, 2020, with high expectations to deliver chills and some new kinds of horror tales since Indian filmmakers in the recent past have failed in making engaging and really scary horror films. 

In fact, this is the third anthology collaboration by the directors: Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap, and Karan Johar, after Bombay Talkies (2013) and Lust Stories (2019). So, did the new film work? Well, if we look at the scare part, the film largely disappoints. However, there are a few elements we might like, and we will discuss this further in the post. 

Watch the “Ghost Stories” Netflix Trailer

Let’s look at the plotline of all four stories one by one and judge what went right or wrong from the experience perspective. By the way, let’s keep in mind that none of the four filmmakers here has ever made a horror film.

Story #1: Directed by Zoya Akhtar

‘Ghost Stories’ starts with a scary note with Akhtar’s horror short where Sameera (Janhvi Kapoor), a young vibrant nurse, is assigned to look after an old lady (Surekha Sikri) in a house somewhere in the corner of Mumbai. From the first shot itself, we get the sense to watch something engaging in storytelling. 

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We certainly get introduced to a nice plot. The overall tonality of the film and the performance goes well with the narration. While the film does not really bring the hard punch in terms of the scare, it slowly builds the tension. It is true that the process to wait for the real chill is more entertaining and scarier than seeing the ghost in a jump scare.

Zoya Akhtar here brings an old woman who is delusional and bedridden, still, she is someone who can sense a few things which others cannot. At the same time, the young nurse’s character is brave enough to nurse a demented patient and at the same time spend a night in a lonely apartment with some unknown forces.

The story and screenplay are very intelligent here. While Janhvi’s performance as a nurse is not that engaging, we can see a few nuances that are promising. Surekha Sikri, on the other side, as the old woman is refreshing to watch. Her looks and drifting nature make the character even more interesting. So, the first story in the anthology, we must say, is a good watch.

Story #2: Directed by Anurag Kashyap

Anurag Kashyap’s story is probably the worst one as we don’t really find anything interesting on screen, even though at a concept level, it is overloaded with subtexts.

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The short follows a pregnant woman Neha (Sobhita Dhulipala) who babysits her late sister’s son Ansh. Her desperation to be the mother of a child takes an ugly turn when her nephew is portrayed as the evil force behind her miscarriage.

Well, Kashyap’s attempt to depict the psychology behind a childless mother does not really justify whatever happens on screen. His attempt to create a psychological horror falls flat as nothing scares us.

Here the filmmaker might have envisioned something big, but for the audience, there should have been more explanation and probably a better treatment. We indeed see the reference of how the character Neha could not be a good daughter, then is that the reason nature denies her to be the mother?

Then, as we know motherhood is an altogether different emotion, Kashyap might be trying to project fear and anxiety with some weird imagery. That might work for some but for others, the subtext might be too much.


Story #3: Directed by Dibakar Banerjee

Story #4: Directed by Karan Johar

Where to watch Ghost Stories (2020)
A full-time movie geek and part time e-learning professional. He loves to read, write and discuss in length about cinema and the art of filmmaking.

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