Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Friday 11th November 2011
Box Office USA: $0.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $175.1 thousand
Distributed by: Cohen Media Group
Production compaines: Studio Canal, BBC Films, Lipsync Productions, Creative Scotland, Origin Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%
Fresh: 40 Rotten: 26
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Nick Murphy
Producer: Sarah Curtis, Julia Stannard, David M Thompson
Screenwriter: Stephen Volk, Nick Murphy
Starring: Rebecca Hall as Florence Cathcart, Dominic West as Robert Mallory, Imelda Staunton as Maud Hill, Isaac Hempstead Wright as Tom, Lucy Cohu as Constance Strickland, John Shrapnel as Reverend Hugh Purslow, Diana Kent as Harriet Cathcart, Richard Durden as Alexander Cathcart, Alfie Field as Victor Parry, Tilly Vosburgh as Vera Flood, Anastasia Hille as Katherine Vandermeer, Andrew Havill as George Vandermeer, Joseph Mawle as Edward Judd, Neil Broome as School Master, Shaun Dooley as Malcolm McNair
In 1921 England, Florence (Hall) makes a fortune debunking fake psychics who claim to talk to the ghosts of Brits who died from war and flu over the previous decade. Her latest challenge is to solve a mystery at a private school in Cumbria, working with teacher Robert (West) and matron Maud (Staunton).
Rumour has it that the ghost of a schoolboy haunts the house, so Florence sets out to find out what's really going on. But she has her scepticism shaken to the core by some genuinely bizarre events.
Like a cross between The Others and The Sixth Sense, the film blurs supernatural lines to leave us wondering what's real and what's imagined.
Everything in this house creaks, moves or goes bump in the night and, like the characters, we see constant glimpses of a ghostly boy in the corners. The filmmakers build atmosphere with a creepy handyman (Mawle), a wheezy literature teacher (Dooley), a barking reverend (Shrapnel) and a lonely student (Wright) left in behind after the other boys go home for the weekend.
As a result, the film is packed with goose-bump moments orchestrated to perfection by director Murphy. Yet while this makes us jumpy throughout the story, it's not enough to make us accept the increasingly goofy plot, which gets less and less clear as it progresses. Figuring out what's happening is virtually impossible and even in the end, after everything is explained, we're left with a few questions.
Hall is terrific, charging the film with realistic humour and cynicism that adds a nice counterpoint to the lushly gothic visuals. Her scenes with West are packed with sexual tension, even if we never believe they're falling in love.
And Staunton, of course, fills her role with all kinds of personality and innuendo. In the end, it's up to the effects and editing to bring everything together. And while it's quite entertaining, it's never original enough to provide a satisfying jolt.