When the curator declines his gift of the knocker to the museum, Ben screws it to his own front door. Consequently he is woken in the night to find that he is, momentarily, in Geap Manor, witnessing ...
Ben Morris, a young teacher, finds an antique door-knocker in his garden and takes it to the local museum, where the curator tells him it belonged to Geap Manor, a Tudor mansion, now demolished, and ...
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Timothy A. Bennett,
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Effectively creepy and quirky slice of UK TV anthology horror
Crooked House sets out the story of Ben, a teacher who finders an antique door knocker in his garden and takes it to a local museum to find out what it might be, he here encounters a mysterious curator who informs him of the dark and forbidding Geap Manor, from whence the knocker came. He has two tales for Ben, before in the final chapter of this three part miniseries the horrors of the past come to have disturbing consequences for Ben in the present. See, Geap Manor was built by a man who dabbled with witches and necromancers, leaving the building with a sort of fearful force to it and the power to attract weirdness and evil goings on. The series was the brainchild of Mark Gatiss who both wrote the episodes and plays the curator, it has a definite zeal to it and good moments in all three parts, it also has a certain joy to the writing, it is well conceived and pleasurably turned, homaging old fashioned spooky stories with a joy for the florid language of yore and a modern eye for introducing elements either taboo for the era or simply more contemporary. Thus in the first tale words like jackanape or a reference to "Jack Ketch's Drop" conjure a lovable if self conscious sense of period, while the story itself draws on the current banking crisis, while the second story sneaks homosexual themes into a tale built on old fashioned issues of class, family and romance. A, often recognisable cast of faces from British TV give a reassuring feel whilst always offering aplomb, especially in the cases of actors best known from lighter fare. Lee Ingleby gives a fine turn as Ben, likable young man being drawn in over his depth, whilst Mark Gatiss is silkily sinister as the curator, eager to help but with an evil glint in the eye. Elsewhere is good work from Andy Nyman, Julian Rhind Tutt and a seductive Anna Madely. Crooked House is a pretty decent attempt to capture for contemporary television the same sort of feel as classic British anthology horror, it does so pretty well with its fine writing and sincerity, though at times the budget or the format itself let the film down, there are one or two weak looking effects, most notably in the first tale, and the plot in general could have been better developed, especially the main arch of the story which is more interesting than the fun but slight historical tales of Geap. Though a nagging low level creepiness is often apparent more shocks or genuine suspense would have been handy too. People looking for heavy duty fear or lots of excitement will be put off, this is more a quieter slice of creepy fodder, with a good deal of bright spots for those willing to just set down and watch it, fans of British TV in general or anthology horror devotees. Best seen around Christmas this is a slight but sweet affair, recommended in a qualified fashion then.
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