57th BFI London Film Festival Review – Blackwood (2013)

Blackwood, 2013.

Directed by Adam Wimpenny.
Starring Ed Stoppard, Sophia Myles, Russell Tovey, Joanna Vanderham, Isaac Andrews and Paul Kaye.

57th BFI London Film Festival

SYNOPSIS:

Having recovered from a shattering emotional breakdown, college professor Ben Marshall relocates to the countryside with his wife and young son, hoping for a fresh start.He has a teaching job lined up and a new home to move into; things finally look to be going Ben’s way. Until, that is, he starts to feel that something isn’t quite right in the house. Finding himself plagued by spectral visions, Ben becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth behind a local mystery that appears to be putting the lives of his family in danger.

Blackwood

I know what you are thinking, this sounds familiar doesn’t it? And to be honest, you would be entirely correct.

The film starts off quickly enough, telling you everything you need to know and setting up the story in the most efficient way possible. From there, the film basically plays out like an English version of a film like Sinister with some slight twists – whether or not that is a good thing I shall leave up to you.

Unlike Sinister however, this film does at least have a few decent scares in it and for the first half I was genuinely on the edge of my seat. Unfortunately though, the second half and especially the final 20 or so minutes don’t even have a mild shock in store and that is beyond disappointing.

The film just about gets by with the sort of scares and characters that you come to expect from a film like this – odd priest, loner in the woods and things that go bump in the night all play out like most modern horror films. Sadly though, as you have seen all of this before, you often feel a little annoyed and end up spending too much time guessing as to the eventual fates of the characters rather than paying attention.

Speaking of the characters, one of the most disappointing things about this film is the incredibly poor character development. From a simple enough setup, certain characters play out solidly enough until all of a sudden they all seem to completely lose the plot and start doing things that make absolutely no sense. Without saying too much, one person in particular acts in such an incongruous way that you can’t help but laugh at the sudden transformation.

As well as the characters, the plot also gets a little nonsensical towards the end and in all honesty just a little bit silly. Strange narrative choices only enhance your feelings of discontent and by the time the story plays out you feel a little bit bored.

There is one redeeming feature in the picture that does almost make it worthwhile and that is the finale. As ridiculous as the characters have become, the film does wrap everything up in a rather clever way that you can’t help but appreciate. You do end up a little annoyed that everything leading up to the end couldn’t have been better but somehow you want to watch the film again just to double check everything that you see in its conclusion.

All in all, while this film is at times ridiculous and nowhere near frightening enough in the second half, there’s just enough to keep you going until a fairly pleasing conclusion.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ 

Ozzy Armstrong is a Stargate and Rocky superfan. Follow him on Twitter.

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