31 Days of Halloween — Day 13: A Haunting at the Rectory (2015) — by Dr. Shock

 

HMP Haunting at the RectoryEditor’s Note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.


The year is 1930. Rev. Lionel Foyster (Tom Boningtom) and his wife Marianne (Suzie Frances Garton) live in a rectory in Borley, England. In need of a handyman, Lionel hires Frank Peerless (Lee Bano), an actor wannabe who moves into the upstairs guest room. Over time, Marianne and Frank grow close to one another, and, eventually, the two become lovers.

It isn’t long after their illicit affair begins, however, that strange things start to happen around the house, from fireplaces lighting by themselves to shadows that drift from room to room. Believing the rectory is haunted, Lionel delves into its history, only to discover a double murder occurred there decades earlier, and that the bodies of the victims are hidden somewhere in the house.

Directed by Andrew Jones, 2015’s Haunting at the Rectory is supposedly based on true events. In fact, the house at the center of this story, the Borley Rectory, was, prior to being torn down in the 1940’s, considered the most haunted abode in all of England. Not a bad setting for a horror movie, right?

Well, the sad fact is that, despite the house’s reputation, Haunting at the Rectory focuses more on the love triangle between its three main characters than it does the ghostly presence that wanders the halls of its central location.

On a dramatic level, Haunting at the Rectory is fairly effective; the film’s first half-hour is dedicated to the relationship that blossoms between Frank and Marianne, while also showing us exactly what it was that drove the frustrated housewife into another man’s bed (in an early scene, she tries to seduce Lionel, only to be rebuffed).

But then, nobody is going to watch a movie titled Haunting at the Rectory to see a love story play out. And while it isn’t, by any means, devoid of horror (a scene where Marianne follows a shadowy figure upstairs is definitely unsettling, and results in what is the film’s best jump scare), there simply isn’t enough here to keep fans of the genre interested for very long.

—Dr. Shock


—Read Dave’s original review over at DVD Infatuation

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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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4 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 13: A Haunting at the Rectory (2015) — by Dr. Shock

  1. Sounds like Haunting at the Rectory is a nice little life lesson for why you shouldn’t cheat. If you cheat, you will be haunted~! I can’t say the plot interests me much and the DVD cover couldn’t be any more bland if it tried.

  2. Thought I’d let the HMP crew know that I received my Scream Blu-Ray prize from the franchise review contest today. I want to thank you guys again for it.

    (Spoiler free)

    Day 13 – Repulsion (1965)

    Three years before creating Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski directed his first English language film – Repulsion. Similarly in Rosemary’s Baby, Repulsion is a tale of a young woman in her apartment building as she’s slowly driven to insanity. Yet, the big difference between the two films is that Rosemary’s Baby tends to be more on the point and obvious while a lot of Repulsion is more open to interpretation. Repulsion is the type of movie that you can watch a few times, trying to fully understand what you’re watching and what everything means. Unless Polanski has since come out and revealed all of the uncertainties of the film, I’m sure there’s been a million different theories in the fifty years since this movie was first released.

    Catherine Deneuve as Carol is fantastic. The longer the movie goes, the crazier she becomes. She goes through a wide variety of emotions, starting off as the timid and aloof girl to the terrifying out of her mind character that she becomes at the end. While there will always be beautiful people cast in movies, Deneuve being gorgeous worked so well because it’s a total contrast to her character. Polanski could have easily cast a less physically appealing actress that would have fit the bill more, but that’s too obvious. When you see a freaky looking girl acting all freaky like, you’re likely going to keep your distance or assume the worst about her. On the other hand, to have someone as beautiful as Deneuve in the role of a crazy woman? It’s scary in that you wouldn’t expect that from a good looking girl. She’s fantastic though.

    Despite her physical looks, I found myself really disliking Carol’s suitor, Colin. Colin seems to be a decent enough bloke, but he’s so obsessed with Carol. The more the film goes on, the more confused I was at why Colin cared so much about her. Sure, I can understand wanting to bang her, but beyond that, what does Carol have to offer? She never shows any affection towards Colin, she’s always in her own world, it’s torture trying to get her to talk, and she’d be such a lame duck girlfriend to have. Yet, Colin won’t stop going after her, he’s going crazy with Carol’s lack of affection, and even claiming to love her despite only knowing her for a few days. It doesn’t make any sense. The more scenes he’s involved in, the more I hate this guy and how he’s a glutton for punishment. But…is that what really happened?

    Everyone is free to have their own theory on Repulsion, but the one I have stuck in my head and I quite like is the one where we’re not getting the full story. Here’s what my theory entails. I imagine most can agree that Carol was likely raped, faced sexual abuse, or had an entire childhood of similar abuse during those early years. I believe her father was behind this and this was what began Carol’s mental issues. However, once the abuse stopped, she was able to have a bit of a normal life, particularly with her sister’s assistance. She and Colin began dating at some point before the events of the movie began. This helps explain why Colin is so gaga over Carol. They had a seemingly normal relationship and it was only the start of the events in the movie that things changed so drastically. This belief is supported by the fact that Colin seemed to recognize Carol when we first meet him. He’s not some weirdo that follows a girl around the city, but rather a boyfriend who tries to get his girlfriend’s attention before finally spotting her in a restaurant. Now, Carol’s breakdown occurred just before the events of the movie began when her sister’s boyfriend, Michael, raped her. Not only did this mess with her mind, but it brought back all of those awful memories of her childhood and how tried keeping her dad out of her room by keeping a bookcase in front of her door. This explains why Carol is so repulsed by the boyfriend putting his razor and toothbrush in her glass and why her sister doesn’t understand why Carol is acting so strange. I feel like the sister is aware of Carol’s past, which makes her sympathetic towards her sister, but not being aware of her boyfriend’s rape also explains why she shows anger and frustration towards Carol whenever her boyfriend is brought up. So after the sister and Michael leaves on their Italian vacation, Carol continues to snap. She hallucinates, has nightmares, and isn’t aware of her surroundings. All of this also explains why her co-worker and boss are so taken back by Carol’s new attitude. They keep asking what’s wrong because this isn’t the Carol they know.

    I’m sure there’s a ton of symbolism that can be found throughout the movie. It’s part of the reason why anyone would watch the film another time. The cracks represent Carol’s insanity. She makes note of a crack in the kitchen, the only crack that actually exists, as that’s the own crack that was in Carol from the beginning. As the movie goes on, more cracks pop up, which goes hand in hand with Carol losing her mind even more. The rabbit left out I feel represents Carol. The rabbit isn’t being taken care of and is slowly rotting away. The same thing applies to Carol. She desperately needs help, but isn’t getting any, so she’s only getting worse. Michael’s toothbrush and razor in Carol’s glass likely points to the fact that he raped her. You even have the fact that Michael’s objects are phallic in shape while the object they are placed in is Carol’s “Glass”.

    If you’re looking to watch Repulsion for it’s horror, you’re likely going to be disappointed. It’s not until the forty-seven minute mark until we get to see something horror-like. The movie is very slow going and it plays more into imagery, symbolism, and the general mood. It’s made worse by the fact that those who love the film will talk about how it’s terrifying and one of the scariest movies ever. That’s going to naturally set a lot of expectations quite high. When you hear a movie is terrifying, many expects it to be very in your face with plenty of jump scares and about as subtle as a chainsaw to the face.

    I’d give it a strong 8.5 rating, but I can’t recommend it to everyone. It’s the kind of movie where you’ll either be into the style and pacing or won’t be.

    • I’ve been hesitant to watch this one because I could not get into Rosemary’s Baby when I first watched it. I think it was built it up in my mind and it’s probably time for a re-watch.

  3. Day 13: Late Phases
    This has been on my netflix cue since Josh’s state of the werewolf address. I agree with Josh that the look of the wolves wasn’t great. They looked kinda like puppets or werewolves I might see on sesame street. Other than that I pretty much loved this movie. Nick Damici was great. I loved his character from the moment we meet him. Ethan Embry was a bonus. I never found myself getting bored and it was great watching Damici set up traps and work out his battle moves while preparing for the next full moon.

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