A haunt­ingly old school hor­ror flick

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -


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.

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