30th Jan2015

‘Unhallowed Ground’ Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Ameet Chana, Poppy Drayton, Marcus Griffiths, Thomas Law, Andrew Lewis, Rachel Petladwala, Morgane Polanski, Paul Raschid, Will Thorp, Richard Derrington, Gil Cohen-Alloro, Jacob James Beswick, Tom Glenister, Perry Moore, Drew Sheridan-Wheeler | Written by Paul Raschid | Directed by Russell England

unhallow-cast

Six students from North London private schools spend a night patrolling the eerie grounds of the historic Dhoultham School as part of an initiative with the British Army to provide rich kids with basic military training. As each hour passes they witness a series of increasingly disturbing occurrences: slamming doors, self-governing lights and ghostly apparitions. The ante is upped by two burglars who have chosen this night to conduct a heist on the School Archive room: a vault of priceless historical documents. As the supernatural encounters begin to take an increasingly malevolent turn, the students realize they must escape Dhoultham before the night’s end. The only problem is they have all been separated; trapped in a maelstrom of ghosts, pistol-packing madmen and evil.

When Unhallowed Ground started I cringed a little. ‘Old timey guy’ writing about the bubonic plague and deaths? Scary plague doctors? A place with a ‘dark past’? Eh, it’s been done. In fact, I even think I recall reviewing a few films which have very similar stories. But then I watched a bit more and I watched a bit more and I before I knew it, I suddenly didn’t find myself rolling my eyes or sighing loudly, I found myself engrossed in this strange tale of some very unlucky students. If I was to describe Unhallowed Ground in two words, those words would be ‘unexpected gem’. Of course, if it were just those two words, my reviews would be a lot shorter and a lot less interesting (Well I think they’re interesting…) so let me tell you why.

At first Unhallowed Ground does seem a little ‘same old, same old’ but as the film moves on, you will realise that it can stand on its own legs. To begin with, the six main characters were varied and interesting. Yes, students as the protagonists in a horror film aren’t anything new, but I felt there were a good range in the character’s personalities which really had them bouncing off each other (that sounded a lot dirtier than I planned). Combined with strong acting, a refreshing level of believability was brought to the film.

If there was one thing I didn’t like, it was that all the female characters seemed to be unable to protect themselves and scared of everything. They were being trained by the British Army guys, surely they would be able to take care of themselves a little? Slight complaint aside, by the end of it, I did really like the story too. Even more so when a few unexpected twists were thrown into the mix, to really add the spice and scares, exactly when they were needed.

Overall, Unhallowed Ground really grew on me and, despite a few awkward looking special effects, I think it is definitely a film worth watching. Especially if you are looking for a decent ghost story with less focus on gore and more on story and screaming!

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