Customer Review

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, in more ways than one......, 18 July 2007
This review is from: The Stone Tape [DVD] [1972] (DVD)
It stays with you, The Stone Tape, once you have seen it it won't let you go. The premise is very simple but also very clever: a team of scientists researching new recording mediums discover that one of the rooms in the old Victorian mansion where they are based is haunted. Gradually it occurs to them that the very stone of the walls may, in some way, hold the memory of the tragic events of the past and be playing them back over and over again. Some members of the team, and in particular the computer expert Jill (played by Jane Asher) appear to be more susceptible to the ghostly sounds and apparitions than others. As the research continues Jill appears to be edging ever closer to a complete breakdown, becoming more and more obsessed with the apparitions and believing they merely mask something far more malevolent and sinister. The rest of the team remain sceptical, but as events unfold Jill becomes increasingly convinced that she is right.

The script by Nigel Kneale is beautifully pitched, giving the key characters plenty of background and making them live as individuals: the team leader, Peter, for example (played by Michael Bryant) with his disintegrating marriage and endless infidelities; and Collinson (Iain Cuthbertson), sober, efficient and level-headed, and perhaps just a little more interested in Jill than is strictly healthy. The script also moves the story along at a good pace, leaving gentle pauses between the moments that make you jump, lulling you into that false sense of quiet ease before the next nerve-shredding jolt. Some of the acting is slightly less impressive however. Jane Asher is superb throughout, but several of the other cast members seem to be giving it all they've got at moments when subtle understatement should have been the order of the day. By pitching their performances towards the highly-strung end of the spectrum straight from the off they leave themselves nowhere to go when events at the mansion spiral out of control.

The special effects aren't bad for 1972 - indeed the fleeting glimpses of the ghost herself are genuinely creepy - and while it's quite obvious the whole story is studio-bound the sets are imaginatively realised. It's a great little programme, and watching it made me wish televison today could be so thought-provoking and challenging.

It's scary too, which is the clinching factor with any ghost story, and if you don't believe me watch it late at night with the lights out...... When the screaming starts, it will get to you.....
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