What did they see?
In the early 1900s, young widower Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent by his employer to an English village where he’s to handle the paperwork regarding the sale of a large manor – that might just be haunted. Radcliffe’s first challenge after the Harry Potter movies is an old-fashioned, engaging ghost story that offers few surprises… but plenty of effective scares and that goes a long way. The star’s depressed appearance fits nicely with the gloomy surroundings of the mansion and the filmmakers stage the titular apparition’s attacks well. Nice supporting efforts from Ciarán Hinds as Radcliffe’s ally in the village… and loads of creepy-looking toys.
2012-Britain-Canada-Sweden. 95 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Richard Jackson, Simon Oakes, Brian Oliver. Directed by James Watkins. Screenplay: Jane Goldman. Novel: Susan Hill. Cast: Daniel Radcliffe (Arthur Kipps), Misha Handley (Joseph Kipps), Roger Allam (Bentley), Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Shaun Dooley.
Trivia: Previously filmed as a TV movie in 1989; the novel has also been adapted as a radio series and a stage play.
Last word: “I thought it was a great opportunity to make an elevated genre film. And then to go back to that ghost story element. Less is truly more in that traditional sense. What’s on the edge of the frame? What’s peeking out of the darkness? Let the viewer’s imagination go to work. Whatever you can shoot isn’t going to be as scary as what you can imagine. But it’s also a nasty horror film in terms of its content. There are a lot of horror films out there that are nasty, but what’s nasty isn’t necessarily scary. What our film, I’m hearing it does the trick and works not through nastiness, but through imagination.” (Watkins, Shock Till You Drop)