“This is my best work!” shouts Mathew Modine.
He’s talking in character about a sculpture infused with his own blood, not the movie itself. Which is probably just as well because, as fun as The Haunting of Radcliffe House often is, it’s not without a major flaw.
Meg (Munn) and Alec (Modine) Hamilton have moved to a house on the Yorkshire Moors. Meg is under contract to restore it for a wealthy American client, Alec is looking forward to some uninterrupted time in his artist’s studio to create a new masterpiece.
Naturally, neither of them will quite achieve their aims.
The main stumbling block for the movie is its familiarity. For anyone who’s seen a fair chunk of haunted house movies in their time there are many moments that feel derivative. A charitable viewer might say ‘homage’ but when you ‘homage’ so much – and so precisely – it’s hard to entirely use that as a defence. It feels like a greatest hits package of supernatural cinema, albeit one that does, finally, offer a few original charms of its own.
None of which is to say it’s badly done, it isn’t. The cast play it to the hilt, writer and director Nick Willing offers plenty of atmosphere and shock moments, it’s just a shame you’ve seen so many of them before.
Perhaps it’s truly getting difficult to craft a wholly original haunted house tale, perhaps people like me have simply seen too many of them and know all the tricks. Perhaps Nick Willing should just have been braver in some of his choices.