★★★★ | Blackwood
If you had just recovered from a shattering emotional breakdown, it might seem like a good idea to relocate with your wife and son to a lonely old house in the middle of a remote wood. Or so you might think. Wrong. The house, it seems, is harbouring a dark secret and Ben Marshall (Ed Stoppard) is determined to get to the bottom of it.
Blackwood is a modern ghost story cum psychological thriller in the tradition of period pieces like The Woman in Black. According to director Adam Wimpenny and writer J.S. Hill, the team gleaned inspiration from Nicolas Roeg’s darkly atmospheric Don’t Look Now and Joseph Losey’s bleak character-led drama Accident. I’m not sure this move is on the same level of inspiration as either of those two masterpieces, but it is consistently gripping, gradually building the suspense and keeping you guessing till the end when suddenly, and tragically, everything falls into place. I do abhor those thrillers which leave you somehow hanging in mid-air at the end. This one definitely gives you a finale.
The film looks good too with great cinematography from Dale McCready, and Adam Wimpenny has got some great performances from his cast. The name best known to most of us will be Russell Tovey, fresh from his performance in HBO drama Looking, though here in a supporting role, convincingly playing against type as the sinisterly troubled war veteran Jack and looking pretty buff too. Ed Stoppard plays a highly strung Ben, a man desperately trying to hang on to control but gradually unravelling as the film progresses. As his wife Rachel, Sophia Myles is warmly feminine, concerned for her husband and fiercely protective of her son Harry (a really nice unaffected performance from young Isaac Andrews). Completing the cast is Greg Wise as Ben’s womanising best friend and colleague Dominic, and Paul Kaye as the enigmatic local priest Father Patrick.
With a little more depth of character than we often get in thrillers or ghost stories, it is an eminently watchable movie, sure to give you the odd start.
Blackwood opened in cinemas across the UK on August 1st