Review: The Haunting of Radcliffe House (2014)

Old love dies hard

Director Nick Welling brings us a story of family, possession and a beautiful yet creepy home. When Meg Hamilton (Olivia Williams) takes a home restoration job in the outskirts of Yorkshire, she and her struggling artist of a husband Alec (Mathew Modine) move their kids Penny (Antonia Clarke) and Harper (Adam Thomas Wright) to the home from London for the duration of the restoration.

While no one seems particularly thrilled at the job, Meg attempts to keep everyone’s mood up, noting that they need the money and that the job will pay her well. When Alec gets a small cut while helping Meg expose a boarded up room, his blood drips onto the floor of the mysterious room and appears to seep into the floor itself.

As Meg begins restoring the home, strange occurrences begin to occur. Penny sees the ghost of a woman who has gruesome cuts up and down her arms, images appear to show out of nowhere in photographs Meg has taken as ‘before’ pictures, while strange things begin to happen with the disconnected telephones.

Consumed in his new found project, Alec becomes increasingly distant from Meg and the kids. When Penny pushes Meg to contact a ghost whisperer, Meg refuses, saying it will tarnish her reputation. After a few more scares, Penny contacts the ghost whisperer, Nigel Lean (Steve Oram) to take a look at the house. Lean warns the place isn’t safe.

Despite the strange occurrences and changes in Alec’s behaviour, Meg pushes on with the restoration, convinced she can work through the struggles and restore the home to it’s original state. She is particularly motivated by some of the home’s hidden artwork that is of exquisite construction.

The Hamilton family must figure out a way to cope with the increasingly more dangerous and bizarre happenings in the home. When things become more involved than they could have imagined, they must find a way to escape the grips of the ghosts that have remained in the home for centuries.

The Haunting of Radcliffe House has a classic psychological thriller feel to it. The constant questioning of the character’s experiences and the need to push through the project to make ends meet for the family are relatable though there are times when the character’s choices (particularly Meg’s) seem unrealistic or too convenient.

Penny’s character is particularly convincing. She wants to trust her mother and dismiss what she’s seen, but she trusts her instincts enough to pursue outside opinions. Alec’s distance is errie. While it seems plausible that he could become so consumed in his work, his chilling interference towards Meg and the kids becomes a bit unnerving. While Williams gives a fantastic performance, her character seems to be inconsistent in her actions. While she is determined to do the work that needs to be done to provide for her family and is clearly the rock of group, she strangely puts up with some horrible treatment from Alec that doesn’t seem to add up.

The film’s references to realistic yet unfamiliar occult practices is convincing, though some of the effects and score seem oddly chosen or premature. Perhaps the greatest aspect of the film is that the haunting is not one with a simple ending. The Radcliffe house is not as concerning as the people that are effected by the powers of the spirits that reside within it.

Those who enjoy psychological thrillers with a touch of historical notes will enjoy this film. The Haunting of Radcliffe House is set to release on DVD on May 11 2015.

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