The Phantom Carriage

The Phantom Carriage ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Spooky Scary Horrorthons 3 - Film #13

New Year's Eve is a night where much can happen. People swear to better themselves, either for themselves or for some higher force. In David Holm's case, this night turns into a struggle to redeem himself and save himself from a terrible faith.

The Phantom Carriage is a very ambitious film, especially if you consider when it was made. It is quite wonderfully shot and executed, and the special effects that were used for the titular carriage look ghastly even today. It is also accompanied by a great soundtrack, dark, brooding and perfect for this tale about death and redemption.

The main character, David Holm, is a lowly drunkard that has fallen from a once happy life into a miserable existance of alcoholism and poverty. His brother is imprisoned for murder and his wife and kids leave him to be alone. David's descent seems hopeless, despite the courageous attempts by Edit, a deeply religious woman. Her faith in David remains strong even when she lays on her deathbed, as she refuses to pass on until she can see whether or not David has redeemed himself of his sins and she can pass away with the knowledge that her faith in him paid off. The relation between these two characters and their differences are a vital part of the film and remains a strong foundation throughout.

The story of David's decay is told through numerous flashbacks, a pretty advanced narrative for the time. The driver of the ghost carriage, a former assoicate of David, follows him around as these flashbacks play out, waiting for the final call, whether David will redeem himself or if he will succumb to his sins and himself become the dreaded reaper that rides the carriage.

David eventually manages to avoid his miserable new assignment by assuring Edit of her positive effects on his life and also by saving the relation to his family. Whether he actually remains a good man is left to our imagination and just like Edit we can only hope that he finds the right path.

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