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TV Herbert Horror is Chilling Stuff!,
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This review is from: The Secret of Crickley Hall [DVD] (DVD)
Having been a huge fan of James Herbert since the days of "The Rats", I was engulfed with enthusiasm when I first read about the cast that had been brought together for "The Secret of Crickley Hall". TV Mini-Series based on horror novels always play better than theatrical movies. Stephen King's IT, Desperation, The Shining, Rose Red, etc, etc....
Eve, Gabe (Suranne Jones, Tom Ellis) and their children Loren, Cam and Cally, live in London until Cam goes missing. Eve falls asleep for a few seconds at a playground and he disappears. Nearly a year later, Gabe suggests relocating the family to the North, hoping a change of scenery will give Eve some comfort, as they all still cling to the hope that Cam may be alive. When they first arrive at Crickley Hall, they meet Percy Judd (David Warner) who worked there during the war; he seems concerned for their children. They start to settle in but before long, strange things start to happen at the house. They hear people, Cally claims to have been hit by a man with a cane and their dog runs away in terror. In the house Eve hears her missing son's voice for the first time in a year. He says he is alive and the children can tell her where he is. After Loren suffers a terrifyingly real nightmare where she gets whipped by the man with the cane, Gabe wants them all to leave, but Eve can't bear to abandon her son.
This terrifying story is spliced together through flashbacks (in chronological order) with a back-story from 1943: Crickley Hall is an orphanage for children evacuated from the Blitz. Nancy (Olivia Cooke) is interviewed for the position of `tutor' by Magda (Sarah Smart), sister of Augustus Cribben (Douglas Henshall) who runs the orphanage. Nancy meets the children, including six year old Stefan (Kian Parsiani), a German refugee, and fourteen year old Maurice (Bill Milner), the class sneak. Cribben keeps in the shadows - he hasn't been the same since he was injured in the Blitz. Nancy suspects the orphans are being mistreated, especially Stefan. When Nancy finally meets Cribben, she is appalled by a man who seems out of control. She tries to rescue the orphans but is fired and no-one believes her apart from young Percy (Iain de Caestecker), who is about to be called up to war.
Writer, director Joe Ahearne pulls out all the stops by piling on the suspense with lots of old camera tricks here and a bit of CGI magic there. The score is excellent and really pushes the envelope for TV drama to its max. The drama drips with menacing atmosphere in every dark corner.
But what makes this extra special is the performances from the outstanding cast. Kudos to Jones for finally being able to shred her TV Soap tag and the younger cast are just remarkable. Stone and Smart dominate the screen in their scenes and little German actor Parsiani is a revelation. Surprisingly, the dark (and quite alarmingly apt) subject matter of child abuse is not overtly played nor is it stingingly obvious - but the message gets across in a most unsettling way nonetheless.
Hopefully the DVD will play without breaks so that we get a 2 and a half hour epic ghost story which does Herbert's novel complete Justice. It's a damn shame that "Haunted" and "Fluke" were not filmed this way - in fact it's a damn shame that more of Herbert's work has not been adapted. Then again - have you seen "The Rats" movie???!!!
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Initial post: 13 Jun 2014 18:38:41 BDT
Mrs W Waugh says:
I also would like to see most of James Herberts books to be made for TV,but these days they dont put many one off plays or adaptions of books other than Agatha Christie on TV nowadays,if the main channels wont do it maybe some of the other less watched channels could, it would give them a boost and do us a favour too,I know the rats wasnt great,using dogs to look like rats was a silly way to do it,but maybe they only had a small budget to work with.......
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