CERT: 18 / FORMAT: DVD, BLU-RAY, DIGITAL DOWNLOAD / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 29TH (VOD), OCTOBER 12TH (PHYSICAL)
Two decades after their eerie supernatural thriller Stir of Echoes, writer/director David Koepp and Kevin Bacon reunite for another ghostly yarn, this time about a wealthy family who encounter mischievous, dimension shifting spirits while holidaying in Wales. Koepp conjures a sporadically creepy air to twist his classic haunted house style tale then strengthens it with affable characters and decent performances.
Bacon's retired banker with a chequered past pairs well with Amanda Seyfried's testy, troubled actor, Susanna, but YSHL's stand-out performance is from Avery Essex, who displays remarkable range and conviction as the couple's death-obsessed daughter, Ella. Kooky locals recall those classic Hammer Horror types who deny the castle's existence, combined with a League of Gentlemen-style ‘local’ weirdness. A furtive property owner augments mystery, fortifying the film's atmosphere along with a key character's curious history and another's teased deceit.
Terrifying nightmares, time-shift sequences and twisted hypnotherapy scenes are eloquently spun into a succinct and pithy script, bar a slightly shoe-horned prologue. Tension amplifies as family conflicts arise, buttressing paranoia, coupled with the revelation that Theo (Bacon's character) is particularly sensitive to scares. During these instances Koepp demonstrates genre-savvy despite a lack of sharp frights, the type of which are synonymous with contemporary ghost horrors. This could be a good thing as most modern jump-scares are passé and hackneyed, but viewers expecting them could be disappointed.
Koepp's eerie, enjoyable potboiler gets by on endearing, complex characters, a shadowy Krueger-like antagonist and well-deployed comedy to counteract the chills. Contradictorily, those expecting anything too ground-breaking or conventional may feel short-changed but general audiences and horror fans should be satisfied.