Thursday, 13 March 2014

Forget Hollywood, Inside No.9 is utterly harrowing.

After watching a trashcan full of Hollywood horror movies, one could be forgiven for completely giving up on the genre.  The Conjuring, Mama, Insidious and not forgetting those horrendously dull Para-boring Activity films have been recent viewings.  Predictable, ridiculous, tedious.

Yet, just as all seems lost within the world of spooks and scares, there is a candle-light of hope flickering in the black.  The BBC's new series, Inside No.9, written by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen, Psychoville), ended last night with a finale that was far too terrifying to watch before bedtime.  While the first five episodes contained an outstanding under-current of humour with sprinklings of darkness, the final chapter was more a case of darkness with a dash of humour; ending a series that has been a momentous return to form for the League of Gentlemen duo.

Last night's installment, entitled The Harrowing, certainly lived up to its name.  It began with a teenage schoolgirl named Katy, wonderfully portrayed by Welsh actress Aimee-Ffion Edwards.  She has been hired to take care of Hector and Tabitha's mansion for the evening.  The gloomy, gothic house is always kept at -3°C for Tabitha's unseen disabled brother, Andras, who lives upstairs and is said to not have a mouth; instead, keeping a bell, which he never uses, beside his bed. Katy is told not to go to the upstairs floor where his room is.

The fear doesn't hit you immediately.  Hector and Tabitha are quite simply horror movie caricatures.  The dark, dusty mansion is filled with (obvious) distressing paintings.  And sooner or later, you know that the aforementioned bell is going to ring.  It all just seems too predictable.  However, what makes The Harrowing such a downright horror success is what happens once that bell rings.  You, quite simply, will not see it coming!  When you hear it tinkle, you begin the ride towards the inferno; ending the episode (and the series), in spectacularly frightening fashion.  The word "mischief" will haunt you for the next few days!  It's utterly brilliant.

With Shearsmith and Pemberton having fully earned their horror stripes, many fans eagerly anticipate a feature-length terror-fest for the big screen.  And, if recent viewings have anything to go by, Hollywood could learn a lot from two of Britain's brightest writing talents.

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