Voice from the Stone is based on the acclaimed 1996 Silvio Raffo novel of the same name.
It follows Verina (played by GoT star Emilia Clarke), a super nanny that specialises in the rehabilitation of traumatised children. When her job is done, she moves onto the next troubled family like a Mary Poppins minus the magic and flying.
But she finds a particularly difficult case when she moves in with widower Klaus and his mute son Jakob in Tuscany.
Jakob hasn’t talked or shown emotion since he witnessed his mother dying of an aggressive fever. After her departure he finds solace listening to the stone walls of the imposing manor in which they live.
Verina approaches the situation with confidence but before long it seems that there may be more mystery at work in the ancient building.
Voice from the Stone is somewhat reminiscent of The Woman in Black (2012), not so much because it’s based on a creepy ghost story (as it isn’t much of one) but more as much of its draw seems to be the lead actor/actress, who has become a cult icon and feels the need to switch genre as proof that the are versatile.
Not being a GoT fan (I know, criminal right?) I wasn’t affected by the fact that I would otherwise find it hard to see Clarke as anything other than Daenerys Targaryen in victorian gear.
Her performance as Verina is good enough. She’s a good fit as the keen, confidant nanny and her conviction makes the more emotional scenes all the more engaging. This is possibly helped by Andrew Shaw’s solid script.
Marton Csokas is equally as powerful playing Klaus, a father on the brink of losing himself, beset with grief and resentment.
But sadly, neither performance can hide the fact that The Voice from the Stone stuggles to make an impact. And the main cause of this is that it can’t quite decide whether it’s a ghost story or love story, so fails at being either.
Apart from the fact that it is atmospheric, the film fails to deliver even the slightest chill as any spooky elements are clichéd and predictable. It soon becomes apparent that any supernatural happenings are more likely Verina’s subconscious at play so the promise of ghosts is lost. This is a major buzz kill.
It’s a common trend: Well known actor/actress makes not so spooky horror film – not so scary so it doesn’t alientate the star’s fans and put them off going to the box office. A bit like Lauren Cohen in The Boy (2016), though that wasn’t actually too bad.
In terms of romance, there is some sexual tension and a scene involving Verina’s fantasy and self pleasure, but sadly, it doesn’t go much further. The flames of passion are extinguished by the display of Victorian restraint and the chance that there might still be weird creepy stuff going on (which there isn’t). It leaves the viewer uncertain of how they should feel about Verina and Klaus’s relationship. Are they meant to be? Is she somehow a reincarnation of Jakob’s mother? Or is she a bunny boiler?
The end result is a film that is watchable but easily forgotten. Which is a shame given that it’s quite beautifully shot and the lead cast give it their all.