That bastion of British horror, Hammer, returns to the big screen with this loose but respectable adaptation of the Susan Hill’s classic ghost story. A solicitor from London (Daniel Radcliffe) is sent to remote Eel Marsh House to sort through the papers of its recently deceased owner, Mrs Drablow. There he meets hostile local villagers who fear the house and want him to leave (a long and proud Hammer tradition), and a mysterious figure in black (natch) starts popping up in unexpected places.
In the tradition of classic English ghost stories and old haunted house movies like The Haunting (1963), director James Watkins creates a suitably gothic atmosphere and a handful of genuine scares. It’s a great pleasure to see a haunted house thriller that takes its time and earns its chills honestly, though it does have a few cheap Boo! moments too. But he doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and the film is a tad too restrained for its own good. Daniel Radcliffe – in his first lead role since the Harry Potter series – is a bit stiff to begin with, but eventually settles down nicely in to the role of a man wrestling with the afterlife.