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Modern MR James Retelling,
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This review is from: Casting the Runes  [DVD] (DVD)
The 70s was a very special time for British television, the audience still being open enough to appreciate slow, tenseful plotlines with little or no gore. MR James was a particular favourite for televising back then, his Ghost Stories for Christmas are still a seasonal tradition in our household; a ghost story seems to marry well with otherwise cheerful celebrations.
Here we have another sombre entry to the MR James canon, a modern retelling of Casting the Runes. MR James's stories are always interwoven with a little bit of metaphor, a little bit of warning about the human condition and more than a pinch of dark humour. Often this is missed in the more literal TV adaptations and Casting the Runes is no different. However, as a spooky little cautionary tale, it is mostly successful. Iain Cutherbertson is underused but as always sinister (see Children of the Stones) as occultist Julian Karswell and Jan Francis is charming as ace reporter Prudence Dunning, hot on his heels to save her own life. The ending is a nice little twist, a little predictable but enjoyable nonetheless. If nothing else, Casting the Runes is a reminder of the days when television was well made and didn't rely on lots of explosions, sex and profanity.