A hauntingly old school horror flick
MUCH LIKE rollercoasters, horror films tend to lose their appeal as one gets older. Obviously there will always be t h r i l l - s e e k e r s , but the ups, downs and terror of real life are quite enough for the rest of us without searching it out as entertainment. And to scare an audience successfully these days requires so much effort, what with the grizzly plots, graphic torture and dismemberment which is all too much for a jumpy soul like me. So I avoid them and seek out old school horror in the style of Adam Wimpenny’s movie.
It’s about a haunted house — Blackwood — which is the fancy new home of a TV historian, Dr Ben Marshall (Ed Stoppard), who is recovering from a nervous breakdown. The sprawling property with its clunky plumbing is an odd choice for someone with mental issues and as he has only recently been reunited with his wife, Rachel (Sophia Myles), and young son, Harry (Isaac Andrews), something more Cath Kidston in style would have been cheerier.
With his telly career on hold and a teaching post at a small university secured, Dr Ben is eager for a new start but this is tricky when he is woken every night by spinning saucepan lids, a chiming clock stuck at 4.10am and perpetual knocking on the bedroom door, which he assumes to be his son. Then there are the two suspicious locals, a priest and the aggressive husband of a missing woman.
Into the mix comes handsome Greg Wise, playing Dominic, a geneticist who has a very involved history with Ben and Rachel. The couple clearly left Oxford to get away from him but Dominic’s arrival heralds another potential clash, while highlighting differing views on the evolvement of the species. When Blackwood’s walls start leaking and bloody hands appear from under bedside tables, the question of whether this is all in Ben’s befuddled head arises. But then his son sees eyes through keyholes and spots a phantom playmate, so you can’t rule out ghosts. Like all old school horror productions there is a good twist and one that is perfect for a forward thinking history teacher. As for the chill factor, it’s plenty enough for me.