Review: The Casebook of Eddie Brewer / Cert: TBC / Director: Andrew Spencer / Screenplay: Andrew Spencer / Starring: Ian Brooker, Peter White / Release Date: TBC
Harking back to the classic ghost story of M.R. James, The Case Book of Eddie Brewer is a quietly haunting character study based loosely on the true life parapsychologist Maurice Grosse, who investigated the case of the Enfield Poltergeist, an apparently genuine incidence of paranormal activity that caused tabloid frenzy in the 1970s.
Ian Brooker plays the titular paranormal investigator, still troubled by the loss of his wife, who died in a car accident some 25 years earlier. The subject of a slightly scoffing TV documentary, Eddie is seen as something of a novelty act by the film crew who follow him around and is derided by the sceptics and rivals in his own field, who denounce his methods as old school. But when Eddie investigates genuine paranormal phenomena at an old house, an all-night vigil becomes a matter of survival for Eddie and the film crew, and Eddie is forced to confront his darkest fears.
Filming in a surprisingly spooky Birmingham, using local talent, director Andrew Spencer fuses gritty social realism with supernatural horror to powerful effect: a fan of classic British horror films like The Innocents (1961) and The Haunting (1963), Spencer brings the same psychological ambiguity to The Case Book of Eddie Brewer. We’re never quite sure whether the supernatural goings-on are real or ghostly manifestations of Eddie’s tormented mind. Spencer is aided in this by sound designer Jamie Robertson who imbues the film with an eerie mood throughout. It’s not quite, but almost, The Exorcist directed by Ken Loach.
Brooker brings a quiet intensity to the role of the dedicated but disparaged Eddie, who gradually becomes unravelled over the course of his investigation. His scientific stoicism slowly peels away to reveal the terrible pain of loss so that we genuinely fear for Eddie – will he survive the inevitable showdown with the forces of darkness? Andrew Spencer’s solid direction combines mock-documentary and ‘fourth wall’ drama that gives Eddie Brewer the feel of Most Haunted meets The Stone Tape, invoking the work of Nigel Kneale and Stephen Volk in its sense of slowly mounting dread, as normal life becomes threatened by the inexplicable. Fans of Ghostwatch and Supernatural will love it.