Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Haunted: The Ferryman (1974) (TV)

Directed by:
John Irvin

Very minor 50-minute British made-for-TV supernatural tale; adapted by Julian Bond from a story by Kingsley Amis and part of the short-lived series "Haunted." Though it does begin well and provides a somewhat intriguing premise, it's completely lacking in scares, chills and we're stuck with an annoying lead character throughout. Jeremy Brett stars as an extremely arrogant and unlikable advertising-executive-turned-writer named Sheridan Owen. Though his first few books came and went without much fanfare, Sheridan's latest novel "The Ferryman" is looking like a different story altogether. The book, about a serial killer who rapes and murders young ladies at an inn called The Ferryman and then sinks their bodies into a nearby lake before mysteriously turning up dead in the lake himself, is catching the attention of critics, publishers and audiences alike. A TV interviewer mistakes the tale for a true story (or does she?), an old lady at a book signing asks a strange question and, basically annoyed with all the attention his latest work is garnering him, Sheridan runs out on his own party. He and his wife Alex (Natasha Parry) then decide to take a little road trip. They get lost on some country back roads and when a really bad rain storm begins, the duo decide to take shelter immediately.

They end up at a remote inn sharing the same name as Sheridan's novel. And that's not the only instance of life imitating art, or vice versa. The porter, the bartender, the owner of the establishment (Geoffrey Chater) and his daughter (Lesley Dunlop) all share the same names as characters from the book. Alex thinks it might just be an odd coincidence or that her husband may have been to the same place before but forgotten (which would have subconsciously influenced what he'd written), but Sheridan begins to think something strange and/or other-worldly is up. Now he's left wondering if the killer ghost from his novel will materialize as well...

Not a bad story line for a TV production running less than an hour, but this one doesn't really do much with it. Very talky film, somewhat bland and not particularly scary or eerie; the intriguing aspects of the plot are never lifted out of the murky ambiguity and the movie isn't involving enough to get one to care either way. The twist at the end doesn't work well either.


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