This Gothic Ghost story about a Haunted House in a Haunted Village where a Haunted Spectre makes Haunted Kiddies do themselves in has all the ingredients to make your flesh crawl. But it’s overcooked, with script & direction that make everything go bump-in-the-night, so the shock effects bring diminishing returns. By the last act, it’s the audience who’s rolling their eyeballs. Speaking of eyeballs, a spectacle-free Daniel Radcliffe is fine, if a decade too young, as the widower who’s sent up to settle the estate and finds the deathly hallows . . . er . . . apparition while Ciarán Hinds, as a friendly local who pooh-poohs the occult, gets good horror mileage out of his hangdog face. The film is something of a resurrection for the old Hammer Studios and, much like their famous '50s horror pics, the storytelling doesn’t keep pace with the elegant visuals. Fourteen producers on this, and not a one of them figured out how to take proper narrative advantage of the wild country landscape or an evening tide that puts the only road to the mansion under water.
DOUBLE-BILL: Naturally, Wilkie Collins’ THE WOMAN IN WHITE. The famous Victorian shocker has been filmed many times and a recent tv version (shown on Masterpiece Theatre in 1997) may take liberties with the story, but it also has a real gasp-worthy ‘reveal’ on the main mystery.