DVD Review: Stormhouse / Cert: 15 / Director: Dan Turner / Screenplay: Jason Arnopp / Starring: Katherine Flynn, Grant Masters, Patrick Flynn, Grahame Fox / Release date: July 9th
The British film industry may be on its arse, but at least plenty of genre films are being made and picked up for distribution. Stormhouse was screened at last year's Fright Fest and finally hits the DVD shelves in July.
It's 2002, four months before the invasion of Iraq and the British military have managed to capture and imprison a supernatural entity. In order to get a better insight into what is happening at the secret Stormhouse base (which is only a ball throw away from playing school kids), the government have sent a 'ghost whisperer', Hayley Sands (Katherine Flynn), much to the annoyance of Major Lester (Grant Masters). She receives a hostile reception from the other army guys, too. Not least Lieutenant Groves (Grahame Fox), although she makes an ally (as well as someone to flirt with) in Australian boffin Justin Rourke (Patrick Flynn). It seems the soldier boys have bigger plans for this spirit, especially in the crackdown on terrorism. Sands is obviously appalled with what's going on, but the increasingly restless ghost may become a bigger problem, especially since it wants to 'play'.
Allegedly 'inspired by real events', Stormhouse tries hard to be a good little chiller. CCTV footage is used sparingly enough so as not to become as annoying as your standard found footage fiasco. Some real anxiety and atmosphere that is built up tends to be wasted as it does employ the 'loud noise jump scare' a little too often. It builds up the tension with within its claustrophobic setting, and when the entity begins to enter the bodies of the men, it resists the temptation of becoming a clone of The Thing. The sets are minimalist but effective, but you would have thought the military could afford lighting, especially in our claim culture society.
Writer Jason Arnopp – who used to write for Kerrang Magazine when it wasn't just Smash Hits for the shoe gazing generation before moving onto Dr Who fiction and a Friday the 13th tie-in novel – has a decent premise, but some of the plot holes are bigger than the one in the cage the entity is kept in.
The film really suffers from its lack of budget, noticeably with some weak acting; sadly this seems to come from some of the more experienced members of the cast. Andrew Hall, playing the government minister meant to be looking out for Miss Sands, is particularly woeful. This doesn't, for the most part, detract too much from the proceedings though.
I'm intrigued as to why Ms Flynn is not listed as being in the film on IMDB. I know it can be wholly inaccurate at times, but you'd have thought the film makers would have corrected it? Could it be that she wanted her name removed so it didn't tarnish her bio?
For all its flaws, it does make for a good Saturday beer and mates movie, although you may never want to hear 'Frere Jacques' again.
Special Features: Behind the scenes, interview, featurette.