HARR Y PRI CE: GHOST HUNTER
The Price Is… Alright
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.