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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'The Secret of Crickley Hall'

Dennis King Published: October 8, 2013

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“The Secret of Crickley Hall”

There’s nothing like an old-fashioned haunted-house ghost story to get us in the mood for Halloween, and “The Secret of Crickley Hall” (due out on DVD Tuesday) has enough creaky floors, creeping specters, macabre happenings and spine-tingling mystery to give fright lovers a delightfully satisfying dose of the heebie-jeebies.

Drawn from a 2006 novel by best-selling author James Herbert, this three-part BBC television mini-series sets in place all the requisite elements for an intriguing supernatural mystery – a long-lost child, a grieving family, a dire history of abused urchins, and, most vividly, the musty old abandoned country orphanage of the title.

A year after their cute little son goes missing from a playground, devastated parents Gabe and Even Caleigh (Tom Ellis and Suranne Jones) move with their two daughters and their feisty dog to a country manse in search of a fresh start.

But soon, the rambling old mansion starts to reveal creepy clues to its horrific past – cellar doors open on their own, unseen children cry through the night, and a cold, spectral figure wielding a cane appears in the shadows. As it turns out, Crickley Hall has a notorious history involving abused children and a maniacal headmaster (Douglas Henshall).

As the story shifts from the present and the terrified Caleigh family to the past and the unpleasant plights of the house’s orphans in 1943, Eve feels a psychic connection to her missing son that prevents her and a family from fleeing. And the crucial question becomes: can the Calieghs learn the house’s secret and the fate of this missing son before the evil that haunts Crickley Hall can claim their other children?

“The Secret of Crickley Hall” is not rated and runs 180 minutes on one disc. It’s being released by BBC Home Entertainment.

- Dennis King