I only went because this British film sounded like it had the potential to be something good, as well as being swayed by some better-than- average reviews. Alas, in my books it was a resounding DUD!
These anthologies of several horror tales within one film were quite a vogue in the late 1960s and early 70s (invariably a 'House of Hammer' production) and there haven't been that many at all since then. They usually consisted of four or more stories told in flashback from the point of view of each member of a group who hadn't met before, but are brought together by some mysterious agent with a sinister motive, often with fatal consequences as a grand climax. Usually two or more of the tales would at some point give me the shivers.
This film has a trilogy of stories prefaced by a character (played by Andy Nyman who's also the director and co-writer) who's occupation it is to reveal charlatans masquerading as psychics who claim to have communication with the dead and thereby duping gullible audiences. He's also bothered by a man who had a the same job some decades previously until he just vanished without trace, assumed dead - and who now out of the blue gets in touch with him suggesting that they meet. When that happens he's given case notes of three situations which the original cheat-chaser can't explain and the newcomer agrees to investigate each of them in turn. This is the pretext for our being shown the three tales in sequence, each of them lasting about 20 minutes - but capped by such a silly attempt to join the strands (lasting about the same duration as each of the preceding stories) that if you weren't mystified enough before then you're sure to be by now! It looks as though the writers were just improvising, not knowing in which direction they were going, so they made it up on the hoof, throwing this and that on the screen in a wholly unsuccessful attempt to bring things together.
The first story features Paul Whitehouse as a night watchman, an actor quite well known to British TV audiences mainly, I think, for comedic roles but here playing serious, and he's pretty convincing. In this segment there's much wandering down darkened corridors and into rooms carrying a torch.
The second tranche features teenager Alex Lawther, with strange parents and who, one night driving through woods runs over 'something' - he attempts to drive on only to have his car conk out!
The final story stars Martin Freeman as........I'm not sure what, apart from some sort of smug country squire who probably goes grouse shooting.
Apparently the film was originally a theatre play, of which I hadn't heard.
The most unforgivable aspect of the film for me was the extravagant overuse of the technique of:- 'silence.......silence...........more silence.............then BANG!!!'
To my mind that's just cheating. There's no film-making skill in it. If the story itself isn't enough to scare one, it's just damn lazy to resort to this kind of ploy - especially when the cause for that sudden bang, thud or other sound which is calculated to startle one out of ones seat has a totally innocent explanation. Using this seems an admittance that the story itself is weak.
Despite the film's title, none of the 'ghosts' as such are of the 'classical' kind in appearance. Here they are all more in the nature of grisly apparitions, often appearing for just the split second necessary to register yet leaving you wondering "What the hell was that?"
Go and see it if you will. A number of people have enjoyed it. But can I personally recommend it? No way!............3.
18 minutes ago
I've not heard of this. When I was reading your review through I was thinking I was going to see a score of 1 or 2. I was quite surprised to see 3!ReplyDelete
Maybe I've made it sound as if it has no redeeming features at all, Rachel, but it does have the traces of a good try at a kind of film we haven't seen in a very long while, so for that I'd give it points. But what an opportunity thrown away! And some of the acting wasn't too bad - especially that of the film's actor-creator, Nyman, as well as a cantankerous Paul Whitehouse. Freeman, on the other hand, seemed to be taking it all as a huge joke, which it was in a way.Delete
I am waiting to see The Quiet Place, which is supposed to be a very good horror [not gore] film!ReplyDelete
You must go, Bob:-Delete
I love ghost stories, but I have grown persnickety I want only 'good' ones, the ones that give you the chills. Most movies ghosts are thrasher horror things not at all proper ghost stories.ReplyDelete
Then this one is unlikely to please you. It's not what you'd call a 'proper' ghost tale, with just about all the 'shocks' being cinematically manufactured rather than arising from the story itself.Delete