Tag Archives: monsters

Time Travelling Ghost-busters – Review of Doctor Who Hide

One of my favourite surprises in Film and TV is when the producers successfully pull off a “genre shift”. So, for example, you might start watching what you think is a romantic comedy but somewhere during the narrative the genre of the film shifts to a shoot ’em up action adventure.

The best cinematic example of “genre shift” that I can think of is in a film called “The Descent”. It starts of as an edge of seat drama about a group of girls pot-holing in deep dark caves. We experience the claustrophobia and terror as they become trapped by a rock fall and then try to traverse a bottomless chasm. Then about 45 minutes in the genre shifts to blood soaked creature horror. The first time I watched “The Descent” this change took me completely by surprise.

Doctor Who Hide has such a genre shift. It begins in the 1970s in a spooky rain lashed house. Candles flicker, shadows deepen, and we catch glimpses of the white ghost of a screaming lady. The director uses all the tricks from horror movies such as The Haunting and Paranormal Activity. It is very well done and is genuinely scary and makes the hairs rise on the back of your neck.

Review of Doctor Who Hide

It’s a small cast, with the ghost hunting characters of scientist  Alex (Dougray Scott) and psychic Emma (Jessica Raine) having room and time to be fleshed out satisfying. They are so obviously in love but unable to declare their devotion. Enter ghost-busters The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and the creepiness becomes intense as they search the gloomy corridors for the troubled spirit.

The genre shift from horror back to traditional Doctor Who science fiction happens when we discover that the ghost is a lady time traveller called Hila trapped in a pocket universe and being stalked by a grotesque but unseen monster. The Doctor discovers this by taking Clara on a whistle-stop tour of the universe from its creation to its destruction (whilst seeing the “ghost” seemingly trapped in history). And this allows for some intense dialog between the Doctor and Clara which deepens the mystery of his new companion,  the girl “twice killed”.

There are echoes of reality show “Most Haunted” in Hide, and plenty of references to classic Doctor Who to keep the fans happy. Who spotted the blue crystal from Metebelis Three? And just what did Emma mean in her warning to Clara not to trust the Doctor – because “there’s a sliver of ice in his heart”,

The last genre shift was back to love story as Alex and Emma finally admit their feelings for each other.

But was it necessary to add the last 2 minutes of the story where, having successfully rescued Hila from the monster in the pocket universe, realises that the monster itself is trying to get to the “love of its own life”, a similar monster hiding in the spooky house. Off the Doctor then goes to try to unite the grotesque lovers. I suppose it was meant to be touching humorous – I just found it weakened an otherwise flawless “movie of the week”.

Your turn: Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Hide? Have you come across any other good movies or TV dramas that pull off an unexpected genre shift. Please share your thoughts. Leave a comment or a link.

Daleks are scary again – review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks

Doctor Who came blazing back on TV screens on Saturday 1 September and nearly 49 years after they first terrified the nation the Daleks returned to send kids scurrying for safety behind the sofa. <Click here to Tweet this

Review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks
Movie Style Poster for Asylum of the Daleks

In nearly half a century successive production teams have treated the Daleks differently. What used to be a scary monster was often reduced to a figure of fun. Especially when exploiting the fact that all you need to do to escape from one is to run up the stairs.

When Russell T Davies revived the show in 2005 he had the metal maniacs flying and they became frightening again. Stairs were no longer a source of salvation from their exterminating excesses. But as the modern programme continued the Daleks became dull again. Too easily defeated. Always wiped out. Instead of fearing them children want to cuddle them. It’s okay to go to sleep with a toy Dalek in your bedroom.

With Asylum of the Daleks, current show runner Steven Moffat, has delivered a genuinely scary script. Humans infected by Dalek nanobots sprout eye stalks from their foreheads and guns from their wrists. Even the rotting skeletal corpses of dead humans rise and deploy their sinister appendages.

Review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks

Deep within the gloomy shadows of the asylum, dormant cobweb covered Daleks raise the heart rate simply because they are immobile. We know they are going to move but which one first. These scenes drag you to the edge of your seat with tension. Maybe children will be putting their toys outside the bedroom after this adventure.

Matt Smith is totally at ease in the role in his third series, a darker Doctor but still flitting effortlessly between humour, sadness, anger and happiness. He develops a strong bond with Oswin, the girl in the red dress who is hiding out deep in the asylum. She guides him through the maze, opening doors and hacking into systems. When the Doctor finally finds her his face is one of complete desolation as he realises that she is in fact a Dalek after all. A Dalek still dreaming of the time it was still a human. And in that sadness is still loathing. Loathing of what she has become. What a strong moment in a stand out script.

Review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks are scary again

But of course the big surprise is Oswin herself. Played by Jenna-Louise Coleman the BBC has promoted her as the Doctor’s new companion replacing Amy and Rory and that they will introduce her in the Christmas episode. So what is she doing here in the first episode of the new series when Amy and Rory’s story is still incomplete? And if she is a Dalek how is she going to become a companion?

As usual Steven Moffat messes with our minds and sets up many questions that we may or may not find answers to as the weeks go by.

Over to you:  Do you agree with this review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks that the show made the monsters scary again? How will Oswin become the new companion if she has been blown to bits as the asylum exploded? Leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts.