Friday, 13 May 2011


Goes through all the usual motions of the modern haunted house movie in a fairly swift 40 mins before relocating and switching up by painting in huge streaks of zaniness blended with a gorgeous dark gothic whilst amplifying the soundtrack to teeth shattering levels of shrill.


  1. I went in with very low expectations and was plasantly surprised by the for 30-40 minutes which played like a serious horror with some extremely well executed scares as the mother cracks up while "something" haunts the house and stalks the baby.

    Then the film lost me in 3 steps. First Barbara Hershey turns up as Grandmother Mrs Convenient, a character with no discernable character who happens to have previous experience of this exact situation, but has decided not to mention any of this to her family for the 3 months the family has had to deal with their child in a coma.

    Then the movie turns into a terrible version of Poltergeist and the second step to the film losing me; the comedy tech team. Following so fast on the heels of Hershey's appearance they cause any remaining tension to dissappear. And then third, the psychic. Herself she's not a terrible character, but her introduction leads to two risible dialogue scenes where everything is explained and revelations are revealled which means that pretty much nothing that we have previously witnessed makes any sense.

    I think the problem is that the first half is a somewhat serious horror movie in the vein of Rosemary's Baby, Don't Look Now and The Shining in that there's nothing overtly fantastical and is much more about a character cracking up than ghosts and ghouls. Then halfway through it becomes a stupid haunted house of monsters movie, just played with the same po faced seriousness which means the sheer nonsense of it all stops it being fun.

    Despite some exceptionally well executed scares (well, 3; 2 early, 1 late) this jumped right to the bottom of the list of films I've seen this year.

  2. "The sheer nonsense of it all stops it being fun"
    James demands his fun be in grey shades of seriousness.

  3. "played with the same po faced seriousness which means the sheer nonsense of it all stops it being fun"

    It's the po facedness that ruins the second half. It works for the first half about a family, having martital difficulties, moving into a new house with a manaevolent prescence. It works when this prescence, which the Mother has already encountered, puts the kid into a "coma" after he's had an accident the Mother could have avoided. It works 3 months later when the prescence starts harrassing the Mother and baby. It works when they first move house and the prescence has followed them. But then when it becomes about the kid in a coma, who is able to astral project and has been "captured" by a demon in "the further", and his Dad, who's been a shit husband and Father for the first half, has lived through the same thing it all gets stupid, but retains the same po faced seriousness, but with 2 completely out of place comedy characters. Not only does this not work, but it makes everything that happened in the good section inconsistent with the explanation (and when I say inconsistent I really mean massive gaping holes that make no sense, it's like a completely different film with a different set of rules that's been Pritt Sticked onto a better film).

  4. "it all gets stupid, but retains the same po faced seriousness"
    James demands his stupidity be in primary coloured shades of hooting, gurgling abandon.

  5. First half scary, second half silly. But I enjoyed it right the way through, so I'm with Al.

    I thought the world-building was good too. A pretty consistent explanation of what was going on (including the reason for the dad being rubbish) but without ruining the mystique.

    Also liked the whispering gas mask.

  6. As a serious horror film, this gives up the ghost when the Ghostbusters reserve team pitch up at half time. Any credibility built up to that point evaporates instantly as it jolts into a ghoulish haunted house charade.

    I guess that means I'm with James, although I don't really share his sense of outrage about it. It's not like the movie was going to be a classic before the hokey mysticism and astral projection stuff started and despite being daft as a brush, that shit was entertaining!

    As A Tale of Two Sisters proved, just because the scares are cheap doesn't mean they're not effective.

  7. Come to think of it, Insidious has certain parallels with that old 80s film you gave me actually - Paperhouse - in terms of a disturbed kid astral projecting at least! That one gets pretty theatrical towards the end too.