‘The Lonely Man With the Ghost Machine’ Review – A Poignant, Comedic Meditation on Grief

Death comes for all of us and when it does, those we leave behind will have to figure out how to grieve. There is no handbook or right or wrong way to do it; it is just one of the awful, unavoidable experiences that is part of being human. Sometimes grief means honoring the life of the loved one who was lost; sometimes it changes how we view the world; and sometimes it is cause for self-reflection. Grief is only one part of the complicated dilemma a man named Wozzek finds himself struggling with in The Lonely Man With the Ghost Machine, the single location, one-man show from writer, director, star, and indie genre darling Graham Skipper (Sequence Break).

As soon as they see the news reports of a global catastrophic event, Wozzek (Skipper) and his wife Nellie (Christina Bennett Lind) flee from the city to a small cabin in the middle of nowhere and manage to survive, at least for a little while. Losing track of time and becoming bored with each other’s company, Wozzek attempts to drink away the days, while Nellie begins to grow resentful that her husband would rather spend his time with whiskey than with her. When a tragic accident takes Nellie from him, Wozzek is left alone and grief-stricken, with only his thoughts to keep him company. Soon years have passed and Wozzek has built a machine he believes can bring Nellie back from the dead. When a mysterious stranger starts visiting him every night and talking to him through the walls of the cabin, Wozzek is forced to contemplate his past and his future, but also questions his sanity.

The Lonely Man With the Ghost Machine is so cleverly written that the fact Wozzek spends the majority of the film talking to himself never becomes dull. Shot primarily in one location, the storytelling is engrossing, and the dialogue is injected with both humor and heartbreaking honesty. As the story unfolds, the film morphs from black and white to vibrant color and back to black and white, delineating different periods in time, but also illustrating the difference between life and death. While there are flashbacks of Wozzek and Nellie before her death, Skipper gives an extraordinary solo performance, skillfully fluctuating between painfully reminiscing about his wife and teetering on the edge of madness.

As Wozzek starts to believe he is on the verge of successfully reanimating Nellie, the nightly conversations with the stranger become more uncomfortable. The stranger appears to be especially interested in encouraging Wozzek to do some self-examination, but he is either unwilling or uncapable, or both. Instead, he is only all consumed with bringing Nellie back, regardless of the consequences.

In the end, Skipper’s agonizing and comedically human portrayal of Wozzek’s predicament, and zany creature effects, are reminiscent of a whimsically crafted episode of The Twilight Zone. A remarkable one-man performance, an engaging narrative, and expert direction make The Lonely Man With the Ghost Machine a provocative meditation on isolation, loneliness, and grief.

The Lonely Man With the Ghost Machine premiered virtually at Chattanooga Film Festival, which is once again offering a hybrid festival experience this year.

4 out of 5 skulls

The post ‘The Lonely Man With the Ghost Machine’ Review – A Poignant, Comedic Meditation on Grief appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.