A forgettable addition to the proud British tradition of haunted-country-pile movies – think ‘The Innocents’ or ‘The Woman in Black’, only without the smarts or the scares. There’s a hint of ‘The Shining’, too, as Ed Stoppard plays Ben Marshall, a recovering depressive and pill-popper who hauls his wife (Sophia Myles) and young son (Isaac Andrews) out to the sticks, where they’ve purchased a rambling mansion in the woods. Of course it’s not long before things begin to go bump, creak and boo in the night.
There really is nothing fresh or surprising about ‘Blackwood’: we know Ben is going to go a bit off the rails and start scaring his family; we know he’s going to investigate the house’s history and turn up something icky; and we know he’s going to end up somehow being the key to the whole mystery. The acting is patchy – Stoppard makes for a brittle, unlikeable lead, but that’s sort of the point, while Myles doesn’t really have a lot to do besides look worried and/or motherly. Paul Kaye and Russell Tovey add spark as a pair of untrustworthy locals, leading to the film’s creepiest (if least believable) scene, as Stoppard sneaks around Tovey’s tumbledown farmhouse right under the unpredictable occupant’s nose.