Written by: Matt Molgaard
Joe Hill’s 20th Century Ghost works effectively as a quality contemporary narrative as well a throwback character study. Alec is a character that feels as though he walked directly out of yesteryear, and it’s hard to shake your attachment from his story. It’s quietly unnerving without doubt, and memorable for numerous reasons, perhaps the strongest being the classic drive-in essence established rather early. Perhaps it’s the sizeable struggle Alec experiences while attempting to grip life as it stands, and as it’s moved, so quickly.
This one is, on the surface a simple ghost story, but it’s actually far more complex than that and it’s laced with a descriptiveness that is downright infectious. I should note that the focal setting of the story – an old theatre, the Rosebud – is absolutely genius. If Joe aimed to resurrect the readers’ ghosts of memories past, he selected the ideal location: nothing taps the funny bone quite like an old cinema surrounding.
The parallels that run between the general haunting from Imogene Gilchrist and Alec’s own personal ghosts is terrific, and creates a relatable, almost tangible vibe. For anyone who’s ever lost a close family member, or more specifically, a sibling, this is a severely melancholy tale, as saddening as it is frightening. If you’re plagued by the fear of aging, and the uncertainties that may await… than there’s something special in this story that leaps from the page with the strength of a gymnast and slaps you right in the face. It should render you quite shaken.
There’s a very cool nod to what feels like a specific filmmaker, still pumping out gems today, but that could be me creating something that simple isn’t there. If that’s the case, well, Hill’s an even better author than I believed prior to reading this short. If you’ve read the story, you likely know precisely what I’m referring to. If you choose to read it after checking out this review, I’m confident you’ll pick up what I’m putting down… or, for that matter, what Joe’s putting down. Regardless, as a film buff, this bonus layer of the tale feels highly rewarding.
I won’t touch down on the finale of this little treasure. I’m pressed for time, and I’m not out to spoil anyone’s fun. 20th Century Ghost is a moving story that proves Joe Hill is a key player, and may well front the new school pack of horror authors. All I can really add to what I’ve told you thus far, is don’t hesitate: get your ticket to the Rosebud Theatre ASAP.