The Banishing

Morley Hall near Colchester, a new home for the newlywed couple Linus and Marianne Forster and her daughter Adelaide, he the vicar who has been transferred by Bishop Malachi to reinvigorate the local congregation which has dwindled since the former occupant of the seat emigrated with his wife, but with the news out of Germany of military mobilisation in defiance of treaty, faith and hope are hard to come by.

The reserved Linus having returned from missionary work overseas, his already awkward reunion with the more bohemian Marianne is complicated by Adelaide’s odd behaviour, increasingly wilful, exacerbated by the strange noises in the house which also take their toll on Marianne who begins seeing things in the night, hooded figures stalking the grounds.

Directed by Christopher Smith, The Banishing is a new period and genre for him having tackled contemporary horrors, satires, mysteries and thrillers in Creep, Severance, Triangle and Detour as well as a trip to the Dark Ages for a dose of the Black Death, now presenting a costumed ghost story set in a country mansion in the late nineteen-thirties as the shadow of the Third Reich stretches over Europe.

A stranger to warmth and empathy, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell‘s John Heffernan is Linus, a pacifist of increasingly short temper who is inexperienced as a husband and ineffectual as a stepfather, Brave New World‘s Jessica Brown Findlay is Marianne, ill-suited to the role of compliant housewife, and The Hybrid’s John Lynch is the stern Bishop Malachi, aware of the reputation of Morley Hall yet determined it should be inhabited.

Written by David Beton, Ray Bogdanovich and Dean Lines, The Banishing walks corridors of haunted house horror polished smooth by the passage of many feet, in particular The Turn of the Screw, The Shining and The Woman in Black, but with no less than three scenes of characters directly explaining the plot the scariest thing is the distracting quiff which crowns Possum‘s Sean Harris as Harry Price, self-described occultist but regarded by Malachi as a conman.

Marianne pushing against the strictures of the patriarch and the oppression of the house, formerly occupied by a monastic cult who believed “torture would bring them closer to God,” The Banishing lacks the puzzle box structure of Smith’s best films, dragging its chains behind it in nocturnal perambulations before arriving at a reveal which would have had more impact as the final rather than the penultimate scene.

The Banishing will be released in cinemas and on digital platforms from Friday 26th March 26th



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