Why is it so hard to make a good ghost story? Let's face it, most horror movies suck. They either go too far down the 'torture porn' route, or they simply rest on cheap scares. But this one had me excited since I first saw a still of it. I could tell by the period clothes and hair and the gothic look that it would be dripping in atmosphere. There's just something extra appealing about a British ghost story. It looked like it could be the next 'The Others', a fantastic ghost story from 2001, or it could be the movie that 'The Eclipse' should have been. (No, not the 'Twilight' film, but the 2009 slow paced Irish horror film that nobody saw, also featuring Ciaran Hinds.) So this had easily been my most anticipated film of the first quarter of 2012, and just seemed like the perfect next move for Daniel Radcliffe after that Harry-something-or-other series he just laid to rest. The stars were all aligned for this one, but sadly I'm seriously disappointed.
Radcliffe plays a lawyer who happens upon a creepy house with a sordid back story of death. And ain't that always the case. The story here is so haunted house cliche, and the only thing keeping you awake through this dull-fest are the non-stop cheap scares of ghosts jumping out at you, punched with piercing sound effects, a la 'Insidious'. But I need more than that. I need story and character development. The atmosphere, art design, and casting is so terrific here that I really, really wish I could recommend it. But the storytelling is so poor that there's just no way that I can. And that just makes me sad.