Imagine a near derelict building, a dark vaulted basement, occult symbols, a young girl seemingly in possession of sinister psychic powers and the spirit of a long dead clown. Sounds like the ingredients for a classic old fashioned slice of weird fiction and that is very much what you get with The Casebook of Eddie Brewer – an atmospheric ghost story that sidesteps shocks, horror and gore in favour of genuine fear of the unknown and how the human mind unravels in the face of it.
Eddie Brewer (Ian Brooker) is a paranormal investigator who shuns modern technology and being part of a team of experts and specialists and instead chooses to work alone and use his own, somewhat old fashion methods. Eddie is an almost constant presence in this film by virtue of the fact that it is presented as a documentary about him and his work. A film that shows him dealing with a girl possessed by a malevolent entity, his nemesis an arch sceptic and the reported hauntings in a crumbling cellar. 'Facing the greatest challenge of his life, Brewer confronts the source of these manifestations during an all-night vigil. What begins as a mocking expose of his life becomes a terrifying battle between reason and the paranormal'
Eddies relationship with the makers of this 'mocking expose' and their attitude towards him is just one of the masterful ways in which we become aware of the film changing, becoming darker. The crew begin with their slightly mocking tone towards Eddie and he in turn is just as unsure of them. There seems to be an awkward yet light-hearted feel to the earlier footage and indeed we even have Eddie cracking a joke and amusing 'haunting' involving Marijuana growing. As Eddie becomes involved in the case of a girl whose invisible friend (spirit?) is that of famous clown Grimaldi, and his other investigation at an almost empty council building turns sinister – coins that appear to fall from the basement ceiling, occult symbols and a haunted toilet – We start to see him become scared and panic as his opinion of the paranormal and his belief in the supernatural is challenged. There is a scene in Eddie's house which not only channels a Jamesian horror but signifies the point when the film sheds off the documentary feel and becomes an all absorbing tale of terror. From this point in every character being filmed by the production crew and indeed the crew themselves are in real danger from the unknown terrors of Eddie's two cases ..and they take the viewer along with them. Ian Brooker plays Eddie Brewer as a sensitive yet grumpy character whom the viewer immediately warms to and is then open to the wonderful performance we get from Ian. He is the perfect Eddie – from his accent and how he pitches his voice to his clothes and his walk - Ian plays Eddie in a way that completely draws the audience in and lets them see the story as he sees it. The supporting cast are also a treat, responding brilliantly to the documentary crew and to Eddie, and showing real fear and confusion when the film subtly changes. I cannot recommend this film enough and it is a film that warrants several viewings. Not because it is confusing and needs to been seen again to understand it but because it is a great film to watch and it is a pleasure noticing new things each time. If you like your scares more along the lines of MR James and Hammer horror than Evil Dead and CGI bloodbaths then this is a film you must make time to watch.
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