First and most importantly, Ghost Writer saves up an enticing what-if premise: what if there’s an actual ghost writing as a ghost writer for famous writer? Bene Dion Rajagukguk holds the premise dear in his directorial debut and blends the idea with exhilarating comedy sketches he’s known for (as in the script of Warkop DKI Reborn series and Suzzanna: Breathing in the Grave). The result is a fresh, uplifting ghost story whose heart and laugh shoo away the scares.
Ghost Writer follows a breakthrough novelist, Naya (Tatjana Saphira), struggling against writer’s block which has made her practically non-productive for the last 3 years. During the crisis, she accidentally finds an obscure diary in the attic of the house she just moved into and she finds out that the diary could be the inspiration for her next story. Unbeknownst to her, the diary actually belongs to a boy who took his own life in the very same house. and, ever since, has become a ghost that haunts the place. The begrudging ghost begins to terrorize Naya and her brother (Endy Arfian, Satan’s Slave); in the brink of fear, she has no other options but to make a ghastly pact with the ghost.
Yet, trust me, this is not the pact that will scare you half to dead; but, it will rather draw smiles or, even, laugh.
The fresh idea of an actual ghost writer came from the vision of Nonny Boenawan who developed it into the final draft with the first-time director, Bene Dion Rajagukguk. While writing script for comedy and horror movie has not been an obscure thing for Bene Rajagukguk, a perfect blend of horror-comedy in a movie is also something new for him. However, it’s only apparent that the script that actually breathes the life to the whole movie. Ghost Writer is about making connection with people; and the whole movie presents the idea adeptly. Saphira’s Naya will connect smoothly with Ge Pamungkas’ Galih a.k.a. the ghost writer. The connection between them doesn’t rush off, but rather flows at ease; giving time for the audiences to connect with them as well and learn about each character’s motivation.
Both Saphira and Pamungkas deliver uplifting performances that will emanate warmth for as long as the narrative progresses. Not only that the interaction between their human character and their ghost character often sparks exhilaration; the juxtaposition between the character’s traits makes the story even fuller. The more we learn about Naya’s backstories and Galih’s backstories, the more we sympathize to both characters. There’s where Boenawan and Bene Rajagukguk starts to spice up the story with drama and sentimentality. Even then, Ghost Writer still takes its time to craft some lite yet effective jump-scares, not to scare audiences, but to move the story forward. That’s how slick Boenawan and Bene Rajagukguk’s script is.
The supporting department brings even warmer feels to the whole movie. Erdy Arfian as the brother makes a great motor to Naya; while Deva Mahenra who portrays Naya’s boyfriend serves as a surprising comic relief. Asmara Abigail’s character might be underused at some points, but when it comes to what matters, she delivers. Most important additions to the cast are indeed the experienced actors, Slamet Rahardjo and Dayu Wijanto. The only apparent downside might be Arie Kriting and Muhadkly Acho’s characters, who despite makes ridiculous comic reliefs, had to nudge the movie’s sensitive issue with little respect to the subject.
Final verdict: the fresh narrative idea and fabulous casts bring warmth to Ghost Writer, an upraising horror-comedy about a non-literal yet literal ghost writer, that will forever marks Bene Dion Rajagukguk’s directorial effort. Just give this man more chances to shine in the future!
Ghost Writer (2019)
Comedy, Drama, Horror Directed by: Bene Dion Rajagukguk Written by: Bene Dion Rajagukguk, Nonny Boenawan Starred by: Tatjana Saphira, Ge Pamungkas, Deva Mahenra, Ernest Prakasa, Asmara Abigail Runtime: 97 mins