One hurdle that any ghost story must face is the inevitable assessment of how much it scares. In this pivotal regard, Blackwood's over-reliance on the sudden materialising of various apparitions to illicit jumps never quite works. Despite the growing sensation that the audience should be anxious and uneasy - but we never truly are. As the end approaches, Hill and Wimpenny try their best to ramp up the tension but it's to little avail, while the final twist leaves a slight feeling of dissatisfaction. Placing a family in an old house that may or may not be home to a disgruntled ethereal spirit is hardly groundbreaking, yet ambiguity is keenly established via the protagonist's fragile state of mind. During a lecture, Ben advises his students never to fill in the gaps of history as we become more uncertain about the conclusions he draws.
The screenplay admirably attempts to play with ideas of perception, deception, the past's influence on the future as well as subverting conventions. Regrettably, most of nuance is lost as Ben's mood swings lurch into the ridiculous. The rest of the cast all do their best with some frequently ropey dialogue; a surprisingly good Kaye in particular feels as though he has walked out of a far more chilling movie. Similarly, the production values are of a high quality giving the setting and visuals a character that the genre aspects could have done with more of. It's not all doom and gloom, but unfortunately Wimpenny's Blackwood never quite finds its feet - a shame, as its central conceit certainly had legs.