Director: Harley Cokeliss .
Starring. Jemma Redgrave, Timothy Spall, Jimmy Nail, Katheleen Wilhoute, Mark Streenstreet, Susan Fleetwood, Nickolas Grace . UK. 1h 26m.
This timid British television production boasts some great names, but for some reason the most influential actors were cast as dodgy villains; two posing as slimey reporters another as a repressed memory bad daddy character it’s sad to see the smallest and nastiest roles in what turns out to be a pretty uneventful haunted house horror go to great names while it’s lead by two no brainer whimsical women. Let’s say Cokeliss lost a lot of the power and charm he exacerbated in Black Moon Rising by this time but the film isn’t a complete loss. Considering the very different surreal undertones it’s a different kettle of fish and thus treated in a very different manner.
Jemma Redgrave plays Diama, a beautiful but incredibly naive socialite, who is on the verge of marrying the man of her dreams, a stunning but overly caddish pilot, Oliver (Greenstreet) who in all appearances seems to be in love but really loves playing away. While spending one of her last nights in the family mansion, she stares into a mirror and experiences a terrifying waking dream where she sees her past present and future, while slipping into a dark nightmare dimension. During the day, Diana is constantly being chased by two pushy paparazzi characters, played by Timothy Spall and Jimmy Nail, at night she spends her life running away from specters in fog machine dreamscapes, until she meets a kindred spirit, Jenny (Wilhoite) an American tourist who’s a victim of a turbulent childhood but she’s strangely drawn to Diana’s house but together they battle against the dark.
While the film struggles to deal with ideas of repressed memories, haunted houses, mediums, past lives and other dimensions, but comes across as a vaselined series of dream sequences that are on par with a Heart music video. At one point Timothy Spall gets taken by the house and seems possessed, turning into a vile and repugnant creature of a man but there’s no real solid explanations. One of the early highlights is the introduction of Jenny, Katheleen Wilhoute is waaaay toned down from her uber quirky medium role in Witchboard but she really picked the film up and drives the plot, in what direction I’m yet to work out but it was lifeless without her and I wish she’d kept that awesome tasseled jacket..
For awhile it’s fun to watch, but as the anticipation that something brilliant isn’t going to happen it soon becomes pretty dull and after disappearing through walls and crying about love and fear the only real memorable scenes are when Nickolas Grace appears, as the boiler suit wearing daddy from every kids nightmares, the character seemed to come from left field but Grace is brilliant as a dirty villain and added a bit of grit when the film was really starting to fall apart, at this age when this film came out I think Grace still had an air of Tim Curry about him and the character is slightly on par with IT (1990), in the way that this dream demon I assume embodies something that scares/repulses the person it’s tracking, it’s never really cleared up during the course of the movie, things just happen or are left hanging.
I‘m still not sure what the dream demon is but this was certainly dream fuel.
R – Black Moon Rising (), Forest of the Damned (2005), Definition of Fear (2015), Death is a Number (1951)The Beast in the Cellar (1970). Witchboard (1986)
L – Haunted Houses, 15 films from 1988 still worth talking about Vol , 80 for the 1980’s,
5s – Timothy Spall, Nickolas Grace, Susan Fleetwood, Jimmy Nail, Harley Cokeliss.