fri 20/04/2018

The Secret of Crickley Hall, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

The Secret of Crickley Hall, BBC One

The Secret of Crickley Hall, BBC One

The chills are not multiplying in adaptation of James Herbert's tale of a haunted school

Suranne Jones looks haunted

The horror, the horror. Primetime television tends to give a wide berth to things that go bump in the night. However reliable a low-budget option for budding indie filmmakers, the chills are not multiplying on the small screen. There’s no need to call in a special spookologist to work out why. Horror has its own demographic, which won’t tend to curl up on the sofa of a Sunday night for a cosy hour of creaks and shrieks. So The Secret of Crickley Hall, which has slung on a white sheet and crept into the nation’s living room, is a bit of collector’s item.

Adapted by Joe Ahearne (who also directs) from James Herbert’s 2006 novel, it tells of Eve, a telepathically inclined mother (Suranne Jones) spooked by the disappearance of her curly-mopped son from a playground. One second he was on the slide, the next he’d vamoosed. Nearly a year on, the Caleigh family decided to ship out of London for some recuperative rural peace. “It’s a good choice,” said Eve’s well-scrubbed hubby Gabe (Tom Ellis) as they toured their new home. Crickley Hall in Devil’s Cleave did indeed represent a good choice if by good he meant draughty, unfurnished and glaringly haunted. The dog had the right idea, as dogs will in the vicinity of ghosts, and ran off at the first opportunity.

Pretty soon floorboards were doing their thing, doors wafting open, disembodied voices piping up. The viewers discovered what the Caleigh family will no doubt work out for themselves in episode two, that this used to be a wartime school for orphans where a regime of unspeakable cruelty held sway, underpinned by an anti-Zionist belief that the war was the product of a Jewish conspiracy. Gravestones in the local churchyard there was a sharp spike in work for gravediggers in 1943. Mention was made of a flood, while David Warner kept cropping creepily up an ancient gardener Who Was There. Flashbacks found a new teacher (Olivia Cooke) taking up cudgels on behalf of a taciturn Jewish refugee (Kian Parsiani) thwacked on a regular basis by a head (Douglas Henshall, pictured above right) going by the atmospheric name of Cribben. He kept a ledger of beatings administered and threatened to lob untreatable miscreants into the well in the basement.

So is The Secret of Crickley Hall scary? It may spook the dog, but does it also frighten the horses? Barely, it must be said, even in the slightest. There were a couple of nanoseconds when the flesh tingled, usually at the sudden smack of Henshall’s cane, but Ahearne’s arsenal of effects is threadbare and there is far too heavy a reliance on a blaring dissonant soundtrack and creeping cameras. “We’ve got ghosts!” hollered the family’s youngest child in triumph. Maybe, but those bumps in the night could just be the sound of viewing figures thonking on the floor.

It may spook the dog, but does it also frighten the horses? Barely, it must be said, even in the slightest

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I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this programme. I thought the acting was superb and the storyline intriguing. Maybe I am too easily pleased. However, it made me feel uneasy and certainly made me jump. I am looking forward to future episodes

I agree !

Just what we want on a Sunday evening to replace Downton, a quality piece of light entertainment. If you want heart stopping, jump off the sofa terror then rent a DVD! - for me this was very watchable, and I am sure there will be something unexpected as the story unfolds.

I agree with Jasper, this was about as scary as the Easter bunny, although it was mysterious. One of the most mysterious aspects was that when David Warner's character was young, in the flashbacks, he had a broad Northern accent, but in the present day he sounded like David Cameron. Still, I will probably stick with it to see how it all pans out. Perhaps the accent mystery will be explained as well. It was a shame that the by the numbers spooky "background" music was often so loud that I couldn't actually make out a word that was being spoken, but I don't think I missed anything too crucial. By the way, if you want some real horror on the TV, give "American Horror Story : Asylum" a go on the FX channel. Definitely NOT a cosy Sunday night ghost story!!

Well made, lovely locations and superb acting by Cally's character Pixie Davies Douglass Henshall was a revelation. Thorough enjoyed the programme. Recorded the programme as I couldn't miss Homeland

Loved this Drama, but at the end i think i missed something?? Can anyone explain why there was a grave for Stephan too. the little German Boy when The old Gent had just said he went on to have a good life and even had his own family ???? So what happened to him to have a grave stone in the yard as died 2009. ?? Any one please help, it's driving me mad. Thanks.

This is a continuity error even if he had grown up and just died of old age the grave would have been in a different name.... as Percy said "they changed his name, he had a good life" yeah as someone else...... Hope this helps

I am glad someone else noticed this as I was sure I had missed something too, but Eve placed flowers on both graves as if she knew who it was? Why? I had expected a family link during this last episode which was never mentioned so I am baffled. Hope someone can enlighten us.

Although this was great to watch I think running closer to the storyline in the book would have upped the scary and made the a good show riveting.... The book put chills down my spine and tears in my eyes...... What a read

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