The career of British horror writer James Herbert, who died earlier this year, somewhat parallels that of Stephen King. In the present-day storyline, the Caleigh family are facing the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of five-year-old Cam. Over the course of the series’ three one-hour episodes, Eve desperately tries to communicate with and locate Cam, while uncovering the history of Crickley Hall and the meaning of the ghostly manifestations which grow stronger as she refuses to leave the house. In parallel with this story, we see the house in 1943 when it was an orphanage run by Magda Cribben (Sarah Smart) and her brother Augustus (Douglas Henshall), an upright Christian pair much admired for their charitable activities. One of the series’ real strengths is the way it uses the present-day ghostly manifestations only as a device to reveal the real horror of what corrupt adults are capable of doing to children. But what really carries the story and gives it an increasingly intense emotional dimension is the excellent cast of mostly TV actors.
The BBC disk comes with no extras, but the 16:9 image is attractive and the stereo sound is subtle and uncluttered. I remember watching this, Douglas Henshall above all put on an excellent performance but knowing about him from other people who have worked with him recently in Shetland, he seems too gentle and kind hearted in reality and this deep down,must have hurt him, the way he had to be sadistic to that little Jewish boy,especially as he himself is Jewish and appearing in a ghostly form,striking Maisie Williams with a cane. I have been editing a wide range of film and video projects, both documentary and drama, for two-and-a-half decades.
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All other content is owned by the respective copyright holders and cannot be used without permission. Why did this drama appeal to you?I’d never done a horror before, and the backdrop of a woman losing her child was the appeal for me, as well as the parallel stories.


Within the first few days of filming I was having to react to an empty staircase where I may have seen a ghost.
Did you do any research for the role?I met a bereavement counsellor and I told him Eve’s story.
How did filming this fit into your schedule?I finished Scott & Bailey on a Friday and then I was on a plane to Berlin on Saturday morning. Is there any particular book or film that has scared you in the past?Well, my mum told me not to watch Freddie Krueger for very good reasons.
Initially, Crickley Hall seems very conventional compared with Ahearne’s earlier work, a layered ghost story with two parallel time lines (present day and 1943) which are built on a collection of familiar narrative elements. To mitigate the emotional effects, father Gabe (Tom Ellis) takes a job up north and the family move for a few months to a big old country house called Crickley Hall. The caretaker Percy Judd (David Warner) puts her in touch with local psychic Lili Peel (Susan Lynch) who reluctantly attempts to communicate with Cam, triggering more traumatic events.
We’re introduced to the Cribbens through the eyes of Nancy Linnet (Olivia Cooke), a young woman hired as a teacher for the children, who herself is an orphan with a painful past. The 1943 storyline is far more chilling than the modern ghost story, but at the same time invests the present-day with deeper emotional resonance as the Caleigh family eventually have to come to terms with what happened to Cam, the truth of which they eventually learn through this encounter with the past. Nothing is over-played and the characters draw the viewer in, creating a fine addition to the traditional English ghost story. I like to think that in turn, he held them close to him compassionately and debriefed them as they say in military terms as this must have been quite traumatic for all three.
I started at the Winnipeg Film Group, cutting on Steenbeck 16mm flatbeds, adopted Avid in 1995, and have used FinalCut Pro quite extensively over the past ten years.


Eve and her husband Gabe (Tom Ellis) move with their two daughters into Crickley Hall, but they soon discover that the Gothic house is haunted by an evil presence called Mr Cribben (Douglas Henshall). Although Herbert was never as prolific as King, he continued to write and publish until shortly before his death, having sold more than 50-million copies in multiple languages. Ahearne keeps things quite simple, allowing the characters and events to create the growing atmosphere of dread without a lot of visual trickery to evoke jump scares. Standouts are Olivia Cooke as Nancy, and Pixie Davies and Maisie Williams as the two girls, with Sarah Smart and Douglas Henshall both excellent as the sick hypocrites running the orphanage. Unlike King, Herbert saw only five of his novels adapted for the screen – four features and one mini-series – with mixed results.
Paradoxically, it’s his almost matter-of-fact, naturalistic approach which allows the psychological horror to breathe. I think I’ve just found out what kind of things I want to do and what type of actress I am. Bayona’s The Orphanage, plus a whole tradition of British horror which centres on dead children.



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