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Phantom Questions: Defying Genre in the Name of Grief




Andreas Mortensen writes a genre-bending story about grief in his screenplay Phantom Questions. A thirty year old named Benny digs up his mother’s body and takes it to a haunted house in order to reanimate her spirit with the help of his friend Alfons, in this horror dramedy.

 

Once in the house, Benny’s quest doesn’t quite go according to plan. A phantom takes up the spiritual energy instead of his mother’s spirit. Instead of having the chance to ask his mother’s spirit questions, Benny has to make space for a phantom to reach her closure.

 

It’s difficult to put one’s finger on the genre of Phantom Questions. It’s not quite horror, not fully comedy, and it’s dramatic but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The screenplay exists in its own liminal space much like the phantom that haunts the story.

 

Benny is making space for everyone else to grieve and offer their opinions on how to grieve, but Benny just can’t get a chance to achieve acceptance on his own. He has to ask his questions in a much more unglamorous manner, vicariously through a ghost and literally with the help of his emotionally distant father.

 

With its peculiarity comes originality. It’s difficult to think of another story that has such an oddball inciting incident. Though one could argue that some of the character’s actions might not feel as motivated as they should, one could also argue that Mortensen has instead been worldbuilding a reality with its own rules and motivations.

 

Rarely in grief does the grieving process ever go according to plan, and Phantom Questions explores that idea through absurdity. Even more delightful is that the questions Benny prefers asking feel somewhat childish and random. As if in the end of things, it’s the petty thoughts that linger.

 

Through his antics, Mortensen reveals that we are not as crazy and alone in our feelings of grief, and we are all dealing with and achieving acceptance in our own ways, even Benny’s resident Phantom.



In February 2024, Phantom Questions won three awards at Top Shorts: Best Screenplay, Best Horror Screenplay, and Best Comedy Screenplay.



You can find out more about the project at https://en.mortensenandreas.com/


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