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Based on Henry James famous novel, this latest version emphasises the ambiguity of this supernatural drama. Does Ann really see ghosts? Are the two children in her care about to be possessed by the spirits of the sexually dubious Peter Quint and Emily Jessell? This is left to the viewer to decide during a bleak yet sumptious 90 minutes of classic period storytelling. Written by
I like ghost stories as much as the next person. Turn of the Screw had all the components for at least a watchable 90 minutes, as its source material is so good, so suspenseful and so delightfully ambiguous. What a disappointment. Even on its own terms, Turn of the Screw was close to disastrous. In fact, the only redeeming quality was the excellent Sue Johnston, she is very believable as the sympathetic foil.
If you want a great adaptation or film of the story/book, look no further than The Innocents with Deborah Kerr, a terrifying and unforgettable film that succeeds on its own merits too. This version of Turn of the Screw is a poor adaptation of the story, the atmosphere was empty and dull, also the ambiguity that made the story so unnerving is dumbed down. The dialogue is also very stilted, and doesn't flow very well from one scene to the next, while the story starts off well but becomes a series of disconnected scenes. The pace is another problem too, like the atmosphere it is uninteresting and profoundly empty.
The production values didn't do much for me either. The photography was good, as was the scenery and house, but the costumes felt like they came from another period. The music is nothing memorable, probably the most memorable moment of sitting through this was my dad saying "somebody crucify those violins!" Though amusing at the time, I see his point, they were very shrill and overbearing. The acting was poor. Johnston was very good though, but Michelle Dockery no matter how hard she tries looks too modern and any genuine fright she tries to convey feels forced. The children fare no better, the characters are written so poorly that I had trouble engaging with them and their situation.
So all in all, a big disappointment. Back in 2009, like the other reviewers here(all of whom I agree with completely), I was looking forward to this more than any other programme(even more so than Cranford and Poirot actually, to be honest both were much better too), but like 2010's Whistle and I'll Come to You it was the biggest disappointment of the festive season. 2/10 for Sue Johnston. Bethany Cox
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