Dir. Pat Holden
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
The world of fiction and reality blurs when it comes to the paranormal. Many believe in ghosts but few can provide evidence for the non-believers. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, an alleged poltergeist was reported at the home of the Pritchard family in Pontefract. The activity was reported in several newspapers at the time and was reported to be the most violent haunting in Europe. The paranormal entity has been known as the Black Monk of Pontefract. Reports of apparitions, painting upside down crucifixes on the walls as well as destroying religious objects used to force the spirit out, it’s taken a very long time for one of the world’s most vicious hauntings to be made into a film.
In typical cinematic fashion, as much as the reflection on the paranormal, the truth has been bent to create a completely different picture. The story is now set in Yorkshire in 1974 as the Maynard family move into the new house. Father Len (Steven Waddington), mother Jenny (Kate Ashfield) and unruly teen daughter Sally (Natasha Connor) soon discover that their new house is the home to another unruly spirit. Once an exorcism is done on the house, the entity gets worse.
With some genuine scares but ultimately seen it all before haunted house fodder, WTLWO feels like a second rate jumpy horror that plays on the domestic household as well as the haunting of the house of 30 East Drive (possibly the only true fact that remains in the film). Connor is perfectly cast as Sally and the friction between her and her mother is brilliantly portrayed on screen.
Behind all of the tense spooks, there is a solid drama hidden within WTLWO that shows the directors effort made to make this reflect the events it bases itself on. The setting, socialism and drama are perfection in the early 70's. But with the facts muddled and some of the more dramatic action left for the newspapers, it doesn't make sense why some of the scarier events and the truth were omitted from the film.
As with THE POSSESSION earlier this year (ed - 2012), it’s hard to find what is particularly wrong with this film apart from the generic film making and predictable scares that hold above the previous mentioned film. Some awfully inconsistent CGI cold breath can be over turned for some strong performances from the cast including a great turn from Gary Lewis as Father Clifton and Martin Compston as the unconventional teacher, Mr Price. When the Lights Went out may not be the shining light of originality but there are a few flashes of fear that can make this a watchable experience.