MIDWINTER OF THE SPIRIT Series One
released oUT NoW! 2015 | 15 | dvd
Director richard Clark
Cast anna maxwell martin, david Threlfall, oengus macNamara, Nicholas Pinnock, Will attenborough
There’s been a deluge of post-watershed supernatural dramas over the past few years, ranging from the sublime (The Fades) to the mediocre (Remember Me). Thankfully, due to the skilled stewardship of writer Stephen Volk (who has past form when it comes to this genre with Ghostwatch and the cancelled-toosoon Afterlife), Midwinter Of The Spirit manages to mark itself as a superior, and artfully unnerving adult drama.
Anna Maxwell Martin is breathlessly brilliant as Merrily Watkins, the reluctant Church of England exorcist, or “deliverance minister”, who’s pulled into a murder investigation with Satanic worship and child abuse connections. Watkins is the angsty ecclesiastical hero of a dozennovel run of supernatural thrillers by author Phil Rickman, and this three-part drama is a faithful, but tightened adaptation of the second in the series.
There are a few effective jump scares (most of which include child abuser Denzil Joy) and some pleasingly chilling supporting turns – Siobhan Finneran, as well-groomed diabolist Angela, glides from empathic and benign to cold-eyed menace in the twitch of an eye. In lesser hands this could have been a fatally overcranked production, but Volk and director Richard Clark keep everything emotionally grounded.
There’s no word yet on whether ITV are planning more adventures for Merrily Watkins, but given the multi-book source material, there are plenty more stories ripe for the small-screen treatment. Don’t let this stay a one-off, ITV.
Extras None. Steve O’Brien
When Rickman’s series was last optioned it clashed with 2008’s Apparitions. “Nobody wanted to touch exorcists after that.”