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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Haunting of Radcliffe House


Starring: Olivia Williams and Matthew Modine
Distributor: Image Entertainment
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 11 May 2015

Meg and Alec move with their two children to a large and old mansion house on the Yorkshire Moors. Meg has a contract to renovate the place to something close to its former glory. She immediately begins taking photographs and using computer software to plan the new layout. Her daughter first notices an anomaly in a snapshot which she is convinced is a ghost. The daughter experiences a terrifying encounter, before Meg herself begins to suffer her own dangerous and unnatural occurrences. Meanwhile, Alec has become increasingly cold and aloof. He spends all of his time on a gruesome sculpture of his wife. He is, it seems, being possessed or at least influenced by Radcliffe, the original owner, who was supposed to have murdered his wife in a black magic ritual before taking his own life. A spectacular but sinister mosaic is uncovered from the floor of the upper room, and it isn’t long before events begin repeating themselves...

Even now, after a few days of consideration, I’m still convinced I’ve seen this and reviewed it before. However, a little check on the site would seem to suggest I’m mistaken. Spooky, eh? Perhaps I’ve seen it on TV in another life. Anyway, I love well-told ghost stories, particularly in the traditional M.R. James vein. Unfortunately, not very many are brought to life on film and TV with the same effect. It’s nice to see another English one, because US TV shows such as A Haunting and Paranormal Witness would have us believe that virtually every other house is occupied by something supernatural (probably the gas bill).

Although it incorporates all the elements of the genre, I just found The Haunting of Radcliffe House immensely dull. There is just an inescapable sense of the production going through the motions. Perhaps that is a fault with the direction. Certainly, there is a lack of realism (as much as this can be real) and commitment. Scenes which should be creepy or outright frightening... aren’t. I know something for a fact: if a malevolent ghost got on my bed in the night, I would be gone from that house and wild horses wouldn’t drag me back. Why is it people supposedly endure all this life-threatening stuff and yet still remain in the house?

The re-enactment of past events scenario seems to go with the territory in this genre. The very nature of hauntings suggests a significant link to the past, and I’ve often wondered why no one has tried very hard to break this mould, or at least to turn it on its head and produce something radically new.


Ty Power

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