mon 20/05/2024

True Horror, Channel 4 review - a Ronseal approach to ghost stories | reviews, news & interviews

True Horror, Channel 4 review - a Ronseal approach to ghost stories

True Horror, Channel 4 review - a Ronseal approach to ghost stories

New anthology based on real accounts provides the scares and not much else

Skillfully made, but docudrama format leaves little room for character developmentEleven Film Ltd

As if the real world wasn’t scary enough... Ghost stories are en vogue at the moment, and after the BBC’s hit-and-miss Requiem, Channel 4 brings True Horror to the small screen – a collection of "real" ghost stories, told by witness interviews and dramatised with a decent budget.

And just like Requiem, our first tale took us to the rolling hills of Wales.

Wales, according to the wide-eyed Pastor Matt Tricker, is a land of old gods and occultists – a description which doesn’t match my Cardiff suburban upbringing, but who knows what happened behind closed doors? The Rich family certainly could not have predicted what their new Brecon farmhouse had in store for them.

The docudrama format sacrifices character development for quick thrills

Interviews with mother Liz and daughter Becca led us on the family’s journey into darkness, presented with real commitment and flair. Shadows form out of focus, lights fly across barns, and spectres appear with increasing frequency. Before long, there are bird-faced figures, car crash victims and self-harm hallucinations.

First and foremost, is True Horror scary? Yes, impressively so. Anthology formats always suit TV horror better, without needing to sustain the suspense over hours. Here, the sheer number of hauntings at Hellfire Farm gave the production team plenty to play with across 45 minutes. You rarely get proper jump scares on television, never mind several in one episode. This was genuinely chilling viewing.

If a decent scare is all you want, True Horror should be perfect. Just don’t expect anything else. The docudrama format sacrifices character development for quick thrills, never questioning first-hand accounts and re-enacting every wildly inconsistent haunting – what shared interest did elephant shadows, old ladies and gruesome ghost couples have here? The family constantly played second fiddle to the ghouls, making the whole package feel hollow.True Horror on Channel 4Despite Hellfire Farm being a "true story", it was also painfully unoriginal. For any horror aficionados, this was simply a Welsh Amityville. Possessed beardy dad? Tick. Vicar attacked in a car? Tick. Freakish pig? Tick. You’d be forgiven for thinking this Welsh farm was built on ancient Indian burial grounds.

This was a shame because it’s the same team from Sky’s brilliant The Enfield Haunting, which perfectly balanced character development and terrifying set pieces. That was an unexpected treat, outshining even Hollywood’s own Enfield adaptation, The Conjuring 2. The skillful jump scares here were the only thing that made True Horror different from UKTV Really's Most Haunted and Scariest Night of My Life


If a decent scare is all you want, 'True Horror' should be perfect. Just don’t expect anything else


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Freakish pig? Tick ????? yes , can't forget : Freakish pig 1 Freakish pig 2 The return of Freakish pig . Not forgetting Freakish pig vs Arsenal charity shield 1982. We're awash with Freakish pig tales ,aren't we ?

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