Friday, 4 September 2015

No.238 : When the Lights Went Out

When the Lights Went Out at the IMDb

Paranormal activity in 1970’s Yorkshire now in this British frightener.

The film opens with  a husband and wife traveling to their new home with their teenage daughter. It’s 1974 and times are tough, although some affluent neighbours do have satellite dishes! The family is struggling financially but hope to have a fresh start in their new council semi.

Unfortunately for them they have moved into a home occupied by a cliché obsessed poltergeist who goes through the usual routine of slamming doors and moving stuff about. The 13 year old daughter is more attuned to goings on and soon sees a spooky figure in the TV - maybe it was ‘Top of the Pops’? The initially skeptical family soon start to believe when they each have an encounter with the spirit, although to be fair it does do a good job of stripping wall paper.

The torn faced daughter confides in her lovely teacher Martin Compston who does some research and takes the class to an old monastery where the girl has a vision of a monk being hanged. There is also a fortunate museum exhibition with lax security which leads the girl to believe her poltergeist pal is the ghost of a 13 year old landowner’s daughter who was killed by a mad monk. She steals the girl’s pendant from the museum as it’s bound to come in handy or she can swap it for some Spangles at the very least.

The case starts to get some coverage from the press and soon the marriage is under stress due to all the nocturnal fumblings that take place when the husband is away - that old excuse again! As the frequency and potency of the attacks increase can a seance or even the Catholic church save the day?

This was an OK, by the numbers, low budget haunted house tale. It was no ‘The House that Bled to Death’ but it went pretty much as you’d expect and had a decent finale that looks like it soaked up 95% of the budget.

The 1970’s were fairly realised but it was a mistake to throw in lots of ‘funny’ lines about avocado bath suites and ugly curtains just so that we in the present day can have a cheap snigger. It was incongruous and took you straight out of any sense of buying into the film’s reality. There were also a plethora of 70’s toys scattered about for the nostalgia effect only including a fully loaded Buckaroo that went off in the night - who ever left their Buckaroo piled high overnight?!

The plot was slight and although less than 90 minutes the film needed some padding to make it to feature length. The solving of the mystery was somewhat pat and the good versus evil battle at the end hadn’t been fully fleshed out for it to make sense. The special effects were quite good although a bit off kilter compared to the rest of the film - we went from muddy 70’s sepia to Industrial Light and Magic for the last couple of minutes.

All in all this was a decent effort but if they wanted something really scare from the 1970’s they should just have recreated the Radio 1 road show.

Best Bit : Uh-oh Slinky attack!
‘W’ Scot 13/23

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