WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU
James Parkin -
Alice Parkin -
Written by -
Directed by -
Andy De Emmoney
Whistle And I'll Come To You (1968)
OTHER GHOST STORIES
Review - First transmitted 24th December 2010
James Parkin is putting his catatonic wife into a nursing home. It's tearing him up with guilt, so he takes a trip to an out of season seaside resort they once visited. There, he is assaulted by a scratching from the walls, a strange cowled figure on the beach and someone trying to get into his room. Perhaps it has something to do with the ring he found on the beach.
A ghost story at Christmas is a BBC tradition that has been revived to varying degrees of effect in recent years. Adapting MR James' short story for the second time (the first memorably starring Michael Hordern), this year's offering is a wonderful effort.
John Hurt dominates what is effectively a one-man show as the bereft academic slowly descending into his own very personal hell. His performance makes the story, his lined face etched with the suffering, uncertainty and fear of his situation. The rest of the cast are barely cameos despite the quality of the actresses chosen to play the parts.
But the measure of a good ghost story is the quality of its scares. WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU is a slow burn of atmosphere and dread. The bleakness of the landscape is an extra character and an almost blank canvas for Hurt to play against. The scares build slowly with odd sounds, that white-draped figure, the evilly grinning bust in the bedroom and the scary rattling door handle. A super use of sound helps to ratchet up the tension and paper over some weaknesses in the plotting (Parkin left alone in a locked hotel?). There is a wierd dream that doesn't quite work and comes across as a bit of filler, but then we get the fingers under the door and the final revelation of the origin of the scratching.
The script plays fast and loose with details from the MR James short story, but keeps the spirit of the piece to deliver another memorable Christmas ghost story to add to the canon.
Watch it alone at your peril.Top
If this page was useful to you please sign our