The Price Is… Al­right

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased 29 Fe­bru­ary 2015 | TBC | DVD

Di­rec­tor Alex Pil­lai

Cast Rafe Spall, Cara Theobald, Richie

Camp­bell, Sophie Stan­ton

ITV’s crack at a Christ­mas ghost story is nom­i­nally based upon Neil Spring’s 2013 novel The Ghost Hunters, it­self a fic­tional chan­nel­ing of the life of psy­chic in­ves­ti­ga­tor Harry Price. In truth it’s as much a side­ways take as a straight adap­ta­tion, ditch­ing the ma­cabre saga of Bor­ley Rec­tory to em­broil Harry in an en­tirely new mystery.

It’s an odd de­ci­sion. Bor­ley is iconic, “the most haunted house in Eng­land,” as Price chris­tened it, and this tale of an MP’s wife los­ing her san­ity in an­other, al­to­gether less no­to­ri­ous stately pile doesn’t have the same ready- built shud­der.

Rafe Spall brings a trou­bled, stoic sin­cer­ity to the boy­ish ghost chaser but he’s just a bit dull. There’s cer­tainly pre­cious lit­tle crackle with co- star Cara Theobald as house­maid Sarah – Harry’s part­ner in the novel – and he’s up­staged by Richie Camp­bell as charis­matic fel­low in­ves­ti­ga­tor Al­bert, whose be­lated ar­rival in­jects some much- needed mis­chief into pro­ceed­ings.

The ’ 20s trim­mings and am­bigu­ous take on the su­per­nat­u­ral leave the story with one foot in straight pe­riod drama, as much Down­ton Abbey as The In­no­cents. Di­rec­tor Alex Pil­lai favours a gauzy look, all dust- mote air and half- light, and the chills are low- key but oc­ca­sion­ally ef­fec­tive: we see mag­gots writhing on rot­ten fruit; glimpse a bun­dled shape on a bed; linger on a statue of a woman, its face eroded into blank­ness.

An ex­er­cise in un­ease rather than ter­ror, this is, ul­ti­mately, tepid stuff, never quite thrilling enough to leave you crav­ing the fur­ther ad­ven­tures the clos­ing moments prom­ise.

Ex­tras TBC Nick Setch­field

Fourth Doc­tor Tom Baker’s choco­latey tones nar­rated a doc­u­men­tary about the real- life Harry Price in 2005.

Al­most blend­ing in with the wall but not quite.

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