Hailed as Europe's most violent haunting, the Pontefract Haunting is the focus of this latest ghost chiller in Brit supernatural thriller When the Lights Went Out.
As the Pritchard family finally move into their newly-assigned Council house, excitement roars for a home of their own to decorate and live, happily, in with their young daughter. It isn't until nightly interruptions force the young girl, Sally (Tasha Connor), to realise something isn't quite right in their home in Pontefract. Unbelieving parents Jenny (Kate Ashfield) and Len (Steven Waddington) brush off the allegations of a haunting and blame it on Sally, feeling awfully silly once the supernatural being begins to play with their emotions.
Ghost stories as of late have been filmed on the overtly-dependable found-footage genre, ala Paranormal Activity who, essentially, revived the sub-genre and spawned many a-sequel, as well a brand new, other projects. True, it's become tiresome, so when we're given a supernatural thriller without the sub-genre we've solely depended on, it's slightly stunning. And with a tag such as "Based on a true story", we've only to expect the most expected. We've seen it all, no? This is When the Lights Went Out's true downfall, it's absolutely expected, everything and anything.
Known to some as the haunting of The Black Monk of Pontefract for the hidden, malicious spirit residing in 30 East Drive Chequerfield, and unlike in the film, said haunting took place over a number of years. Perhaps if this was included and exaggerated in Pat Holden's chiller, a sense of exhaustion for the family may have been exuded. A prolonged sense of dread and terror, instead of the inevitable slapdash series of typical ghostly activity. Moving lights, creaks, shadows and the odd squealing of a pig being slaughtered. The latter was slightly unnerving, followed ever so quickly by a giggle. Where did it come from?
Typical jump scares are in the form of sudden thuds, with the occasional building of suspense (a scene involving the father in a back room with a looming, blackened figure) proving most successful, but it's too quick for its own good, and is shortly interrupted by bursts of bad acting, poorly conceived sub-characters who merely address said problem as "the ghost". It's awfully rushed, but never feels totally wasted. It does frighten to an extent, and if you're eligible for a jump or two you'll be fidgeting like no ghost's business. It doesn't exactly cross into the dreadful until the last act, by which the beckoning of the credits will seem like a godsend.
Verdict: A rushed, painfully generic ghost story with a tag that introduces one too many promises. A core performance by newcomer Tasha Connor is watchable, but barely scrapes passed everything else that offends the eyes and ears.