I woke up this morning to find a blood soaked piece of paper that had been shoved through my letterbox.
The paper carryied the following synopis and a link to the online screener of Blackwood, which was shown at Film4’s Frightfest in 2014…
Having recovered from a shattering emotional breakdown, college professor Ben Marshall (Ed Stoppard) relocates to the countryside with his wife (Sophia Myles) and young son (Isaac Andrews), hoping for a fresh start. With a new job and a new home, Blackwood, things seem to be going his way.
But Blackwood is far from a peaceful, rural escape, as Ben is haunted by visions that seem to connect to the house’s previous owner, Mrs Warner, an artist whose disturbed paintings litter the house. As Ben begins to dig into the disappearance of a local woman and her missing son, he is led into investigating a troubled gamekeeper (Russell Tovey) and the local vicar (Paul Kaye). The arrival of Ben’s old friend and fellow academic, Dominic (Greg Wise), serves only to awaken buried feelings and past rivalries. Is Ben fated to solve the mystery of Blackwood and save his family before time runs out?
Sounds scary doesn’t it? And to be honest, it is quite scary! As I sat in a sombre mood, prepared to watch the film, I expected a run-of-the-mill haunted house story, with creaking floorboards, doors flying open for no apparent reason and items falling from out of nowhere. You know, your normal paranormal stuff.
But Blackwood delivered much more. For instance, in a scene when Ben goes to see former owner Olivia Warner, you’ll get a shock that will have you jumping out of your chair and showering your vicinity with half chewed popcorn (if you’re eating it at the time – as I was).
And I don’t scare easily. So for a scene to stay in my mind as that one did is no mean feat.
I am pleased to say Blackwood isn’t boring or generic at all. In fact it’s quite refreshing to see a film touch on the human psyche as much as Blackwood does, taking us on a journey into what can only be describes as one man’s descent from breakdown into virtual insanity.
At times that Ben can only see the mysterious boy in the wooden mask. And when his wife asks him whether he should go and see the doctor (as she is quite distressed by his behavious), she fears that his state of mind could affect his new job, but their life too.
Things go from bad to worse as we see Ben spiral from normality to abnormality. Will Ben go completely bonkers and brutally murder his family? Or will he solve the mystery of Blackwood and drive off into the sunset?
It is nice to see a film go for scares on a purely atsmospheric level rather than just using CGI gratuitously. Drenched in old fashioned film nostalgia, Blackwood delivers an excellent storyline which keeps you glued to the screen, even though you know in the back of your mind something unexpected and pant wettingly exciting is just around the corner.
A stellar cast only helps to deliver the message of the film. Jack (Russell Tovey) and Father Patrick (Paul Kaye) add some fun to the mix with their enthusiastic portrayals of complete weridos. Paul Kaye gave me the creeps so much that I’ll definitely avoid him if he I see him at film fests/conventions. Please don’t make me sit next to him. Pretty please?
On a more serious note, the orchestral score is outstanding and only helps to add tension to an already tense script, which has you waiting for a jump moment to happen. I have been so used to watching buckets of blood and gore lately that you to actually sit down and watch in all essentials is a straight forward ghost story, pleased me no end.
The film shows shades of The Shining, and director Adam Wimpenny should congratulate himself on delivering one fo the best horror films of 2014. He’s come a long way since directing episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway that’s for sure!
Definitely a film I will recommend you watch at your next convinience.