Tuesday’s (last night’s and Wednesday’s) TV: Crooked House

December 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

CROOKED HOUSE, BBC4, Tuesday 23d December, 10:30pm Alert me

The format is pretty simple with this one.  There’s a house.  It’s old and yes, a bit crooked.  Some spooky sh*t went down in it over the years and now the curator of some museum (Mark Gatiss who also wrote and produced it) is chatting to some other guy about the said spookiness.  The end.

Ok so there’s a smidgen more to it than that and it isn’t the end is it because a show isn’t just a scornful synopsis (unfortunately in this case)?  But if you actually commit to watching this one for three hours out of your Christmas slob-out schedule you’re in for some festive doodoo.  

Split up into three half hour ghost stories (beginning last night) that can be watched separately or in one go this Saturday evening you might liken Crooked House to that multi-pack of substandard body lotions that were on offer and you got as a gift from folks who don’t really know you.  Sure, they do the job ok enough but they lack a certain, what’s the word, quality.

Filled with oft-repeated, un-scary, low angles of the house in question that don’t even make it seem all that warped, just fairly tall, this is the Beeb on a budget. Ok, so Derren Brown and the guy from Green Wing’s in it (in last night’s eighteenth century episode) and actually he’s not bad (apart from his bizarre and quite excruciating monologue about lavender and bees, which let’s face it was down to a fairly dodgy script if anything) but all in all this just isn’t spooky.

The dialogue feels somewhat contrived and the thrill that’s meant to accompany ghost stories simply isn’t there.  You’re just confronted with strange stains that are meant to be blood, women in wedding dresses with no eyes and an obviously ‘weird’ soundtrack that is punctuated with equally cringe-worthy interaction between the curator and Mr. Morris.  Even the twist doesn’t quite redeem this one.

If you’ve got an overactive imagination and are very good at making yourself all scared even when things aren’t particularly scary, just a bit laughable, give Crooked House a watch this Christmas.  If on the other hand, you prefer a show to do all the creepy work, as is customary for television programmes to do, maybe this one isn’t for you.

By Susan Allen