When The Lights Went Out REVIEW

The monks were too cheap to buy any chairs.

Release Date: 14 September 2012
15 | 86 minutes
Distributor: Revolver
Director: Pat Holden
Cast: Kate Ashfield, Steven Waddington, Tasha Connor

This British horror film is set in Yorkshire in 1974, a time when power cuts frequently plunged the country into chilly darkness. But the real-life supernatural events it’s based on took place in the late ‘60s. Writer/director Pat Holden (Awaydays) has a personal connection to the case: it took place at his aunt’s house in Pontefract, and his mother was a witness.

In the film, the Maynard family – couple and teenage daughter – move into their new house. Shortly thereafter – and you could write this next bit yourself – they’re plagued by creepy incidents and things moving violently of their own accord. What’s vaguely comical is how readily the family accept that ghosts are to blame, as if it was on par with an infestation of mice. Maybe they’d just seen The Exorcist and took it as gospel.

Rather like the poltergeist in it, the film works in fits and starts, as opposed to being a satisfying whole. Classroom relationships are touchingly evoked, some of the creepiness is quite well done and the ‘70s atmosphere is reasonably successfully evoked – although it largely relies on chintzy décor and Noel Edmonds on Top Of The Pops on the telly.

But nothing particularly surprising or exciting happens, and the straightness with which the subject is treated – the priest and the homeowner walk around the house intoning “The majestic Christ commands you”, for instance – eventually means everything seizes up.

Russell Lewin twitter.com/RussellLewin

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