A Bleak House
With her family in tow renovation expert Meg Hamilton (Olivia Williams) moves to an old Victorian house on the Yorkshire Moors which after being run as a B&B for some time has now fallen in to a state of disrepair. But right away Meg senses that there is something strange about this once grand home with its maze of rooms, many of which have been barricaded up. As a series of strange events an accidents first cause Meg's renovation team from London to leave and then a local team refuse to come near the place it becomes apparent to Meg that maybe they are not just renovating an old building but also the ghosts of those who died there over 150 years earlier.
Whilst if you come across "The Haunting of Radcliffe House" under its alternate name of "Altar" you may not be sure what the movie is about the other title clearly tells us we are in haunted house territory. Unfortunately we are also in familiar territory as all we get in "The Haunting of Radcliffe House" is a lot of cliches from windows shutting on their own, the house seeming to attack and control members of the family, apparitions and much more all of which slowly reveals the building's horrific past whilst setting up a potentially horrific climax. Frankly the familiarity of "The Haunting of Radcliffe House" makes it tedious with only those with a deep fascination in haunted house movies maybe picking up on some of the movie's nuances.
But the bleak familiarity of "The Haunting of Radcliffe House" is not its only problem as sadly it makes a very simple error, for haunted house movies to work you need to have compassion for the characters and want them to survive. Unfortunately whilst Olivia Williams and Matthew Modine deliver their characters it is difficult to feel compassion for them as a husband and wife with children. That stems from the set up of some form of marital issue which means there is little compassion between them for us to invest in and you get the sense that if they weren't married it wouldn't be a great loss to either of them.
What this all boils down to is that "The Haunting of Radcliffe House" was a bleak movie partly down to the familiarity of it being another haunted house movie but also due to the characters not being overly likeable. The thing is that whilst it is hard for me to get excited by any aspect of "The Haunting of Radcliffe House" it isn't a bad movie just an ordinary one.