There were several reasons for liking this film:
|One of Florence's "ghost catcher" objects|
1. Steampunk objects - The main character, Florence Cathcart, has made it her lifework to expose hauntings and mediums as hoaxes, and to do this she has a huge array of machinery and devices that fulfilled my steampunk soul. She arrives at a boarding school, after being summoned there by a teacher, Robert Malory, and sets up her trip cameras, ghost catchers, bells, and other cool stuff. I loved the scene where Florence, who smokes and wears trousers, screws together her inventions in order to expose the "ghost" as a charlatan.
2. Florence herself - She's played by Rebecca Hall, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses (she was also in The Town with Ben Affleck.) Although she appears to be a strong, emancipated woman at first, it becomes apparent that she has issues of her own.
3. Robert Mallory - The teacher, played by Dominic West, who asks Florence to come to the school is a veteran of the trenches from WWI. Their tortured relationship is really well-done, and he is a perfect choice for the role.
4. The hauntings - Holy spooky! What Florence sees in the dolls house is pretty trippy. Also, much of the action takes place in the day and thus doesn't rely on the tired "creeping around at midnight in an old house" formula. There are some shocks that made me jump, and the ghost itself is perfect. Plus, rabbit doll, anyone? Shudder!
5. The photography - Just jumpy enough to be modern but not enough to make me puke.
6. Imelda Staunton - I'll watch anything with Ms Staunton in it, and she doesn't disappoint as the Matron of the boys' school under investigation.
What's not to like:
The ending. It's unbelievable enough as it is, and the action is rushed to hurry through a certain plot point that I just couldn't believe.
Despite that, I would recommend the film for anyone who likes a bit of a scare without full-blown gore. I'm a ghost story fiend - always have been - and this one satisfied my craving for haunts.