3 January 2015 | bob the moo
One location, no real physical action (or even movement) but yet creepy, effective and enjoyable
Not only it is Christmas but there is an additional reason for celebration in the family as a wedding has occurred. The small family unit gathers together by the fire the day before the happy couple head off on honeymoon, however there is an odd atmosphere in the room as one of the group (Todman) seems intent on stirring up trouble with his barbed remarks. Continuing to try to poke the bear, Todman turns to the eldest in the room, Geeles, and asks for a story from his long life. Although Geeles pooh-poohs the request, Todman continues to push him, with the others joining in; what follows is a story they did not expect.
Maybe it is a myth created by fiction such as this, but there does seem something of a good fit of British Edwardians in still drawing rooms, telling controlled and measured ghost stories. For the US one thinks of campfires and uplighting torches, but there is something pleasing about a British ghost story in the mould of Saki and such. This film seems to not only recognize that but it fully plays on this. The scene plays out very simply, with mostly just an air in the room, which turns dark very quickly and creepily. Most of the characters barely move from their spots and there is no "moment" really where the audience would hark back to (something that is common in shorts trying to grab short attention spans). Instead the film is creepy; consistently, crisply, cleanly and matter-of-factly creepy. It is very well done to do this through the benevolent certainty of Geeles. Nobody likes it when a cat stares at nothing because, although we know nothing is there, it is a little disconcerting to have the cat be so damn sure of where it is looking; it is the same with this tale, the others feel sure it is all talk, but at the same time the air of certainty in the room is unsettling.
This is played out very well by Glover playing Geeles. Almost certainly best known at the minute for Pycelle in Game of Thrones, here he is very well pitched and delivered, never going over the top and always remembering that the control of tone and slow burn are key things. He is well supported by the cocksure Coleman, who is nicely disagreeable with the chip on his shoulder. The supporting cast beyond them are also good but mostly limited to Edwardian characters in a scene. Technically it is very well done, making great use of one location and the cast, with good sound and well captured atmosphere with subtle use of music and other aesthetic changes.
I watched this during Christmas and, by coincidence, had also moved into a rather chilly Edwardian house; so it worked very well for me, but I think even on a busy station platform waiting for a train, this is well enough down that it will draw you in and creepily satisfy.