Name: Neve Campbell
Born: 3rd October 1973 in Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Credits include: Scream, Wild Things, Churchill: The Hollywood Years
Reason for visiting Glasgow:
The Canadian’s father Gerry was originally from Glasgow and in 2000 it was widely reported that Neve Campbell took time out from a Scream 3 promotional visit to London to travel north to the city. A Daily Record article from the time reports that she visited her cousin’s Nitshill flat, where a party was thrown for her, and that she also took time to browse the Barras market.
This 1998 film features Heather Ann Foster as a young girl who has survived an ecstasy fuelled car crash which claimed the life of her friend, and who – along with her family (mother Kate, played by Stephanie Buttle, and younger brother) are now experiencing disturbing goings on in their Glasgow high rise flat. Jason Connery as a “Glasgow Post” reporter investigating the unusual occurrences, and Nicola Stapleton as a neighbour and confidante of Foster’s Lizzie make up the top billed cast.
I found it hard to tell whether Urban Ghost Story is meant to be a horror film with an urban backdrop, or an urban drama film with a dose of horror thrown in. I personally think it falls more in the latter camp however as it focuses more on the grit than on the fear – in fact the atmosphere throughout does not feel like that of a horror film. I am perhaps being unfair in holding this unique production up to traditional horror film standards, however with a front cover tagline of “She died… She came back… Something followed…”, people’s expectations are likely to be raised.
The internal scenes, which make up the majority of the movie, were filmed at Ealing Studios and indeed all principal photography took place in the London area – the tower block used is actually in Acton. There are however plenty of panoramic shots of Glasgow which help set the scene. One early montage in particular shows high rise buildings, a child staring out from behind a mesh balcony screen and drinkers on a bench – this, to me, is intended to establish that this is not a traditional country mansion haunting. Bear in mind that Urban Ghost Story was released some years after Poltergeist and more still before the likes of Paranormal Activity, so would have stood out at the time for its everyday setting.
There are other Glasgow touches throughout the movie – we hear Clyde 2 on the radio, Lizzie’s little brother has a Rangers bedside lamp and there is the fictional and aforementioned “Glasgow Post” newspaper, which promises “7 Pages of Soccer”.
While the film can be slow in places and it is far from being a classic there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half than watching Urban Ghost Story. Worth waiting for are impressive scenes near the end concerning a fall from the tower block and a full flashback to the fatal car crash – although the scale of the explosion activated by the crash seems a little exaggerated.
One final – and trivial – point to make about Urban Ghost Story is that it is a real late 1990s time capsule. Ecstasy was a big issue at the time and newspapers using terms like “ecstasy girl” and “ecstasy car crash” are reminiscent of this period, while there’s a reference to Independence Day and we see big mobile phones, extensive VHS collections and The Sun promoting a “50 Teletubbies To Be Won” competition.