Ghostwatch (1992)

Directed by Lesley Manning
Written by Stephen Volk
Produced by Ruth Baumgarten, Derek Nelson, Richard Broke
Starring Michael Parkinson, Gillian Bevan, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith, Craig Charles, Brid Brennan, Michelle Wesson, Cherise Wesson, Chris Miller, Mike Aiton, Mark Lewis, Colin Stinton, Linda Broughton, Katherine Stark, Derek Smee, Roger Tebb, Keith Ferrari

If its execution met its ambition, this unauthentic exposé might’ve warranted its unjustifiably popular overestimation. It’s surpassingly stagy and stodgy in its enactment of a remote news crew (Greene, Charles, Miller, Aiton, Lewis) who report their investigation of a suburban poltergeist (Ferrari) that’s persecuting a single mother (Brennan) and her daughters (Wesson sisters) to the program’s presenters (Parkinson, Smith) and a co-hosting parapsychologist (Bevan). No small tedium proceeds from the constant garrulity of idle, internal blatherskite, telephonic hoaxes, interviews with witnesses (Broughton, Stark), a spiritualist (Smee), and an American skeptic (Stinton), interrupted only by unconvincingly hoary, ghostly manifestations. Most of these actors range from dull to dismal, but the late, household Parkinson is in good, routine form, almost counterbalancing Bevan’s tiresomely tetchy researcher. Dupable British viewers were somehow spooked by this preposterous presentation’s premiere, verifying that the BBC’s audience was unfit for horror. Howbeit flat and footling, this is more endurable than Paranormal Activity or its sequels.

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