Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Secret of Crickley Hall: a Bad Year to be an Orphan
the anniversary of their young son’s disappearance the Caleighs try to heal
their grieving family by renting out the most haunted house in England. Most of the former orphanage’s charges
supposedly died in the great flood of 1943, but the truth is far more sinister. It might also have very personal implications
for the Caleighs in The Secret of Crickley Hall (promo
special three hour adaptation of James Herbert’s novel, which airs this Sunday
on BBC America.
Caleigh blames herself for the apparent loss of their son Cam. So does everyone else, but they try not to
say so. She was the one who dozed off at
the playground and woke up to find him missing.
She used to have a pseudo-psychic connection with her son, but since Cam
vanished she has not felt his consciousness—until they move into Crickley Hall.
her son is still alive and in danger, Caleigh starts investigating the old
house. It is not pretty. Most of the orphans were supposedly sucked
into the well dug into the cellar during the tragic storm, but two remain
unaccounted for. Her best source of
information is the old gardener, Percy Judd, who understood the grim realities
of Crickley the rest of the town was unwilling to face. He knew the headmaster was badly abusing the
children, particularly a shy Jewish refugee, despite the heroic efforts of his
potential girlfriend, the new teacher at Crickley, as viewers witness during
the frequent flashbacks to 1943.
similar, Crickley is sort of like the
TV miniseries version of Nick Murphy’s The Awakening. Considering they still
have two perfectly good daughters to lose, it is hard to believe the Caleigh’s
do not turn on their heels as soon as they take a gander at that ominous
looking well. (What more do they need, a
desecrated cemetery in the backyard?) Yet,
Gabe Caleigh stubbornly refuses to accept his wife’s ghost talk, despite all
the spookiness going on around them.
Nonetheless, director-adaptor Joe Ahearne wrings plenty of chills and
suspense from the eerie setting.
the ensemble does not have a lot of big names by the standards of Hollywood television
magazines, it holds plenty of geek interest.
Suranne Jones, (co-star of a fan favorite Doctor Who episode) is compellingly guilt-ridden as Eve
Caleigh. Playing another mournful husband
much like his character in The Fades,
Tom Ellis is about as sympathetic and convincing as possible for the
frustratingly incredulous Gabe Caleigh. However,
it is reliable veteran David (Tron, Time Bandits)
Warner’s Judd who really gives the film heart, while Game of Thrones alumnus Donald Sumpter also bears watching as the mysterious
old parapsychologist come to allay everyone’s fears.
Even though none of the revelations are
shockingly original, Ahearne still pulls it all together rather effectively in
the third hour. He plays the old dark
house card for all it is worth and juggles the two narrative time periods fairly
adeptly. Still, the well produced,
half-period Crickley’s three hours
could have easily been condensed into two without losing much. Of course, it is important to bear in mind
Herbert is a major best-seller in the UK, so a longer Crickley would make sense for the BBC over there. All told,
it is fairly scary stuff for an early Sunday evening. Recommended for fans of British supernatural
programming, The Secret of Crickley Hall premieres
this Sunday (10/28) on BBC America.
Labels: BBC America, David Warner