Set in Ireland, a family moves to a new city neighborhood, taking residence in a large, old house that is rumored to have a dodgy past. Their young daughter Katie is caught in a power ... See full summary »
Set in Ireland, a family moves to a new city neighborhood, taking residence in a large, old house that is rumored to have a dodgy past. Their young daughter Katie is caught in a power outage while the parents are out to dinner, and her father insists that she go down to the basement to fix the fuse. When they'd first moved in, Katie had a panic attack in the basement, brought on by stories that the devil once appeared down there. But with her father's help, she slowly descends the ten steps to the bottom, each step into darkness inducing more and more terror, building up the suspense in a most simple, yet THE most effective way. Written by
Left alone in her new home to look after her little brother, Katie is generally creeped out by her new home but is coping alright until all the lights go out. She rings her parents who are at a meal that is important to her Dad's career and naturally they are not keen to leave for a problem that she could fix herself. Her Dad directs her down into the cellar and down the ten steps to the bottom, where she will find the fuse box.
The problem with finding something you love and telling people is that it then becomes build up in the minds of the other people before they see it and something that surprised you turns into something that doesn't live up to expectations for them. I did it with the short French Doors and I suspect that The Ten Steps has the risk of being the same because, although it is chilling and effective, it is almost certainly not brilliant and praising it too much risks building expectations that it can't meet. So I have a problem then, because I did think it was really good but hyping it further will only produce a sense of anti-climax when the expectant viewer reaches the low-key ending. The whole film is atmosphere because there are no real jump-scares and fortunately it does this well. The direction makes good use of the haunted house and sets up a tension that heightens the whole way down the stairs. The main complaint I would have in this regard was that the restaurant scenes were too bright and colourful and jarred with the dark stairs a more subdued setting would have helped and I'm not saying that the restaurant needed to be as eerie.
Jill Harding's Katie really helps the atmosphere as well. Considering her face is all we can see for a lot of the film, it was important that she be convincingly frightened and she is. The actors playing her parents are a lot less convincing; her "father" in particular didn't convince as he sent her into somewhere she was scared of just so he could impress his boss. However these are all minor problems because the atmosphere does work and it is quite chilling in a low-key sort of way. Don't expect too much and you'll probably be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
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