Helen ( Celia Williams ) is a brilliant professor and neuroscientist who abandoned her life as a spiritual medium following the death of her daughter, Lilly (Patricia Godinho), but when her former mentor asks her to take on her duties once more, she decides to use her connection to the spirit world to further her research. Inner Ghosts, written and directed by Paulo Leite, is a sort of modern take on the Thirteen Ghosts concept but of using technology to find proof of ghosts, here the ghost themselves are helping develop technology to allow living patients to reconnect to their lost memories. Against the protests of her skeptical colleague, Steinman ( Norman MacCallum ), Helen moves into a highly-haunted rundown building used by her mentor to conduct a series of experiments on its inhabitants to see how much of their experience on Earth they’ve managed to retain but discovers that some of the spirits that haunt this place may not be so benevolent.
She’s joined in her research by her assistant and daughter of her mentor, Rachel ( Iris Cayatte ), and Elsa ( Elizabeth Bochmann ), an artist who illustrates the dark visions that have haunted her since her childhood and has sought Helen’s aid fearing she is no longer powerful enough to retain control over them. These three women form the core of Inner Ghosts’ narrative and their shared trauma and purpose make for a compelling drama. It’s on the slow side without any big scares coming until it approaches its climax but keeps things interesting through some extensive lore and worldbuilding. It’s clear that a great deal of thought was put into fleshing out how ghosts manifest in this world and developing a rational basis for the sort of phenomena that we associate with paranormal sightings.
Once the ghosts start to make their threat known, the intensity ratchets up pretty quickly with some pretty ghastly practical effects and a climax that leans towards the absurd but is nonetheless inventive and chilling in its execution. Beyond its creatures and gore, it’s a nice looking film with lush lighting and a handful of exceptionally well-crafted scenes. The only things that really bothered me were the tenuous connections between her paranormal and scientific research and the fact that the ghost characters aren’t particularly fleshed out. Beyond that, Inner Ghosts is a well-constructed classic ghost story that should entertain any fans of the genre that don’t mind waiting for the scares to take some time to develop.