Meg Hamilton and her family must temporarily vacate to an isolated area in Yorkshire when she is hired to restore a large house. When unexplainable incidents begin to happen, the family determine that the ghost of a murdered woman may be haunting their quiet abode.
The Haunting of Radcliffe House (Releases as ALTAR in the U.S.) is an impressive blend of horror stories and could be described as The Shining meets The Woman In Black. Yes, we have the familiar stir-crazy father and ghostly woman, but the film does just about enough to make sure it isn’t a carbon copy of what we’ve already seen. It’s a homage, rather than an imitation and isn’t completely predictable, like many low-budget horror features. There is a pleasant build-up of tension and the film does well to create an eerie atmosphere. Unlike many recent horror films, we have a lack of jump scares and much of the runtime is filled with an unpretentious build-up of dread. The focus on atmosphere rather than cheap frights, is worthy of praise, making The Haunting of Radcliffe House reminiscent of Hammer Horror films.
With a larger budget a lot more could have been done with this film. It was largely let down by its cheap special effects. Much like a beautiful song with too much digital manipulation, The Haunting of Radcliffe House suffers from overproduction. A lot of the film successfully relies on its creepy atmosphere, but many moments are ruined by unnecessary effects that borderline on the ridiculous. It would have been beneficial for the film to stick to the subtle scares it sometimes embraces; ghostly figures hovering in corners is a simple, yet effective way to send shivers down your audience’s spine.
More should have been done to help the audience feel an emotional attachment to the family we spend so much time with. We never feel wholly involved in their trials and tribulations, making it difficult to truly care about their, admittedly dreadful, situation. Perhaps, by being offered an insight in to the family’s past we would have felt more connected, rather than feeling as though we have been shoe-horned in a moment of convenience.
All in all, this is a pleasing low-budget British horror and you could do far worse than giving it a watch. There’s nothing particularly remarkable or ground-breaking, but it’s an enjoyable spooky ride. It offers an adequate variation of past horror films and should be pleasing to those after a short, effective fright on a Friday night.
Words: Jessy Williams