THE TURN OF THE SCREW
Sarah Grose -
Dr Fisher -
Written by -
Directed by -
OTHER GHOST STORIES
Review - First transmitted 30th December 2009
Ann is a young woman whose first job as a governess takes her to a big country house where she is to look after two children, wards of an uncaring uncle that Ann rather takes a shine to despite his obvious raffish behaviour. At the house, she starts to hear strange noises, see strange faces at the window and notice that the children are behaving strangely, though they and the staff deny that anything untoward is happening. And then Ann hears about the previous governess and the Gamekeeper.
Henry James' classic ghost story is a truly gothic tale in that it mixes up all the usual horror themes of the time; corruption of youth, sexual awakenings, the supernatural and death. It's heavy on atmosphere, but light on actual events and so any successful adaptation has to play on that atmosphere, on the faces half-glimpsed, the figure half-seen moments for their effect.
Any dramatisation of the tale is going to be measured up alongside the peerless 1961 film THE INNOCENTS. Michelle Dockery is no Deborah Kerr as the governess, but she does have the innocence and youth to bring out the themes of sexual awakening. Unfortunately, neither script nor direction manage to capitalise on that fact. Nor do the essential creepy moments manage to get through the welter of glorious summer photography that seems intent on creating a holiday postcard than a christmas creepfest. We know that something bad is going to happen, but mainly only because we are told that in the framing device that is the therapy session.
The children too are critical to the success of the story and the two here are just not up to the job of being scary. Kids are quite often the creepiest thing going, but these struggle to raise any sort of frisson, but then they aren't given much to do and so can't do much.
Christmas really is the time for a good ghost story. Unfortunately, this doesn't prove to be it.Top
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