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Little Stranger, The  (DVD)


Stars: Domnhall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Charlotte Rampling, Will Poulter, Liv Hill

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Is this a ghost story or more related to flesh and blood? Sarah Waters' original book isn't inclined to help us and neither is the film. So the ending, though it follows the book, is even less satisfactory on screen. I thought that I had guessed it and wanted to be proved right!

With camerawork as misty and dusty as Hundreds, the mansion in which most of the drama takes place, we meet Dr Faraday (Gleeson), first in 1919 as a village boy of six or so (a remarkable lookalike), at first overawed, then spellbound by the house. He breaks off an ornamental acorn there - and gets a thrashing from his mother (Kathryn O'Reilly).

Now it's 1948, and Faraday is called to Hundreds to attend to Betty (Hill), the maid. He meets the matriarch (Rampling), her daughter (Wilson), who runs the place, and her son Roddy (Poulter), disfigured by war injuries.

He treats Roddy's badly twisted leg and has some success; when Roddy regresses, he blames it on the house, which 'hates its occupants'. Then there's the supposed ghost of five-year-old Susan, who died soon after Faraday's 1919 visit.

Gleeson's cool personality is well suited to the role of Faraday, but the film is quite slow and - for me at least - frustrating too.

David Quinlan

UK/Ireland 2018. UK Distributor: Pathe . Colour by Panalux.
107 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 17 Jan 2019