British horror is my go-to genre. When I’m sick of Hollywood’s spatter-fests of blood and guts (and over-amped CGI) I feel I can always rely on low-budget British horror to go back to basics with things that go bump in the night and things not appearing as they seem at first glance. Director Adam Wimpenny hits the nail on the head with this in his new feature length gothic-horror, Blackwood. Throw in my fave Brit actor Russell Tovey and you’ve got a Brit horror to be proud of.

Blackwood has so many beautiful tropes of gothic horror – the sprawling old house, leaky walls, the crazy and deranged characters (cue Tovey), the thunderstorms… although while these tropes are intrinsic to the genre it forces the film to lie in the balance of classic and ‘seen it all before’. Fortunately, despite the lack of money spent on this, and its traditional elements, Blackwood still manages to create a tense and gripping atmosphere by going back to basics with a great cast, a great score and a well-constructed plot.

Having recovered from a shattering emotional breakdown, college professor Ben Marshall (Ed Stoppard) relocates to the countryside with his wife and young son, hoping for a fresh start. He has a teaching job lined up and a new home to move into; things finally look to be going Ben’s way – which we all know is a screamingly obvious sign of the complete opposite. Finding himself plagued by spectral visions, Ben becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth behind a local mystery that appears to be putting the lives of his family in danger.

Delivering good old-fashioned scares alongside a host of innovative ideas, this atmospheric chiller from newcomer Wimpenny really is smart revision of the traditional English ghost story.

Blackwood’s supernatural elements are handled with an intelligence that maintains credibility as it twists and turns its way to a startling conclusion – the low-budget could have seen poor effects and low-impact scares, but going back to basics has really proven to be behind the true efficacy of this film by showcasing Wimpenny’s story-telling skills.

Blackwood is a cacophony of familiar tropes that are executed in a familiar but committed way. Definitely reminiscent of any other ghost story or haunted house film you’ve seen before – it certainly has a swirl of Kubrick’s The Shining too – but this acquaintance doesn’t detract from the film’s curt and intense pace.

 

 

DVD Review: Blackwood
3.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Emily Stockham

Emily is from South London and has a degree in English Literature. Emily is a marketing assistant who writes about films and music in her spare time. Horror and grindhouse are her thing - although she will happily watch anything if it means a trip to the cinema.