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Playhouse

UK 2020
produced by
Fionn Watts, Toby Watts for Far North Film
directed by Fionn Watts, Toby Watts
starring William Holstead, Grace Courtney, Helen Mackay, James Rottger, Rebecca Calienda, Eilidh McLaughlin, Mathilde Darmady, Julie Higginson
written by Fionn Watts, Toby Watts, music by Dan Baboulene

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Young and cynical Bee (Grace Courtney) has moved to a castle in the middle of nowhere, Scotland, with her father, Jack (William Holstead), a writer who has chosen exactly this spot of land for inspiration, as he wants to turn the actual history/legend of the castle into an immersive play. Of course, he tells none of the rather gruesome stories surrounding the castle to Bee - stories about a walled up boy having struck a deal with the devil to get revenge on his tormenters, and ultimately all humankind -, leaving her to find out from two mischievious girls (Eilidh McLaughlin, Mathilde Darmady) from school. And of course the story freaks her out a bit, especially since the wall the boy's supposed to be behind is still here, and when she touches it on a dare, it gives her a jolt.

Jack and Bee's next door neighbours Jenny (Helen Mackay) and Callum (James Rottger) come over for dinner one evening, and it's an even that leaves them all changed: Bee disappears from the face of the earth thereafter, Jack shows increasing signs of either possession or madness (it's really a matter of interpretation), Callum is so fascinated by Jack that he wants to give everything up and also become a writer, while Jenny reveals the walled up boy was actually one of her relations, and she has actually moved here from the city to make peace with her own past. However, presently it seems it shouldn't be the past to worry her but the here-and-now ...

 

Now true, the plot of Playhouse is quite far-fetches, even for a horror movie, doesn't always make perfect sense and at times seems to jump around a bit without giving all scenes proper resolutions - but that's hardly the point as this one's much more an exercise in atmosphere, located somehwere on the crossroads between ghost story, possession thriller and mystery, and as such it works rather nicely, not only thanks to great locations, wonderfully moody camerawork and strong performances by all involved, but also thanks to a narrative approach that really pushes things forward rather relentlessly, and a dynamic directorial effort that only supports that. And really, that not everything's resolved in the end only adds to the creepiness of the thing.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD