TV Review: The Secret of Crickley Hall (2012)

The Secret of Crickley Hall is a disappointing ghost story that not even Suranne Jones can rescue 

“Hands up who wants to move out of here
‘Hands up who wants to know where Cam is?'”

You know how it is. You nod off while you’re watching your son at the playground and then he disappears. And then 11 months later you move to the north and find yourself in a haunted mansion where his spirit starts talking to you. Such is the world of The Secret of Crickley Hall, which flits between affecting family drama and haunted house hokum as it follows its parallel timestreams.

Adapted by Joe Ahearne from James Herbert’s novel (airing on the BBC on 2012), the current-day trials of the relocated Caleigh family run alongside the experience of the group of orphans who were evacuated there in 1943. At the heart of the story lies Eve, wracked with guilt over the disappearance of her son Cam, the conviction that she has some kind of sixth sense leaving her susceptible to the torrid history of her new home.  Continue reading “TV Review: The Secret of Crickley Hall (2012)”

Review: I and You, Hampstead

Probably best not to read this beforehand if you’re planning to see Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams in her stage debut in I and You at the Hampstead Theatre…

“I don’t know, what the hell?”

I could try and write about Lauren Gunderson’s play I and You without giving away the twist, or even the fact that there is a twist, but I don’t want to. Perhaps, I won’t reveal specific details but in some ways, just knowing there’s a rug-pull on the way can significantly alter the way you experience a show (whether on stage or on screen – it will be a job and a half trying to get through GoT’s final season free from any spoileriffic noise).

But back to the Hampstead, and this slight two-hander with its substantial delusions of grandeur. Picking at overworked teen-movie tropes, Caroline and Anthony are two teenagers whose growing connection forms the bedrock of the play. She’s waiting for an organ transplant and so not going into school; he’s got her latest poetry homework assignment and though they don’t know each so well, they’re destined to get on in a heady mix of hormones and Walt Whitman. Continue reading “Review: I and You, Hampstead”

DVD Review: The Falling

“What’s a man I’ve never met got to do with all of this?”

Having cast an eye over the reviews for Carol Morley’s The Falling, I was interested to see how well it has been received by real cinephiles, their writing suffused with cinematic references to the likes of Lucrecia Martel and Lucile Hadžihalilović, Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Wicker Man. I was interested because the film really turned me off, despite containing many things that I love – not least a cast with Monica Dolan and Maxine Peake and a score by Tracey Thorn, late of Everything But The Girl.

Set in 1969, The Falling concerns an outbreak of what we now call mass psychogenic illness, aka hysterical fainting at an English girls’ school. At the heart of it are best friends Lydia and Abbie, the latter’s exploration of her sexuality (namely by sleeping with the former’s brother) sparking an intensification of feeling which leads to tragedy. And as a result, an epidemic of fainting spells sweeps the school, affecting even staff, unleashing its own torrent of private truths about Lydia’s family circumstances. Continue reading “DVD Review: The Falling”