Monday, 15 November 2010
I can't help thinking that if it had a bigger budget, or indeed if it was remade (wash my mouth out), it would have more of a Fourth Kind feel to the face distortions that go on during the scanning process. Although it works amazingly well without that CGI and the other effects are quite magnificent. The real horror here is the control they could have on your mind and the unbelievably devastating effects that that can have on your brain, and indeed your head. And that's something that no migraine medication can reverse.
Monday, 8 November 2010
The niece Flora shows her creepy colours almost immediately, what with staring at her new charge while she sleeps and singing manically and all. That's enough to put the willies up anyone. And now her brother Miles is sent home from boarding school for being a bit evil. Miss Giddens is all fired up to reprimand him but when he arrives he turns out to be quite the charmer. But a bit too grown up for his own good. He refuses to talk about school and cuts her off in an authoritative instant.
The children immediately feel too confident, lulling Giddens in to a false sense of security, and thus insuring that it is they who are in charge of her and not the other way around. As time passes they grow in confidence and maturity and their spontaneous fits of laughter knock you for six.
The lighting in the black and white shines like it is filled with all the colours of the rainbow. The shadows of the house provide the children plenty of places to hide. It's very sophisticated camera work for the time, with above waist shots coupled with a teetering footstep giving the impression of the figure floating along the floor. In focus foreground and background shots, with figures on opposite ends of the frame, make your own vision feel distorted.
The visions of the ghosts wouldn't look out of place in a John Carpenter film. The whole piece is a study of perfect ghost story telling. There are long drawn out scenes of Giddens walking around the house in darkness. These scenes are not boring, they're excruciating because of the terror you feel at not being able to see around the corner. At the time censors cut the scene where Miss Giddens kisses the little boy on the lips as it looked too sensual, and I must confess, it does!
Black and white and set in the olden days (sorry, Victorian England) you may think this couldn't possibly hold any horror you would be interested in. So, olden days, seems like I'm coming round to you after all.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
For those of you who haven't seen the BBC's comedy horror TV series Psychoville, you need to rectify this as soon as possible. From the geniuses behind the dark horrific joy (and I mean that in the best possible way) that is The League of Gentlemen (Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton) , we are treated to some old fashioned freaks and horrors and the scum of the earth. In other words, a delight. The Psychoville Halloween Special is told in a horror anthology style with a bit of found footage thrown in for good measure. It also touches on a more gory and modern version of The Vault of Horror.
It begins with a young man called Drew giving a tour of an abandoned mental asylum to a television researcher working on a Most Haunted rip off. As a boy he was dared to break in to this asylum and while he was there he spied the matron putting pins in to muffins for the Trick or Treaters. Mmm, sharp. She captures him and tells him a selection of frightening Halloween tales to teach him a lesson.
Relying on many British references for some of the humour, it nicely sets up the new series coming next year. You might be thinking, how scary can a TV comedy really be? But it's scary in a circus of freaks kind of a way. And it's a testament to the writing that it draws British acting royalty like Imelda Staunton, Eileen Atkins and Dawn French. And the creepy we're coming to get you feel and all that that brings. Psychoville is character led. They find themselves in frighteningly venerable situations they can't get out of; be it allowing their own family to get too close, going in to a stranger's house or by simply making someone angry. And we all do that in one way or another, don't we?