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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Review: The Haunting of Borley Rectory

Director: Steven M. Smith
Screenplay: Christopher Jolley
Year: 2019

Synopsis: A young soldier from the United States is transferred to England in the middle of World War II. The place where he is located in one of the most haunted places in England. Shortly after being there he starts to suffer from disturbing visions and apparitions.

I have already lost count of how many movies have used the concept of the diabolical nun or just nuns in general in horror movies. “The Convent”, “St. Agatha”, just to mention some of the most recent and best to come out and that have been reviewed on this page after when “The Conjuring 2” popularized this concept. The truth is that it has been used so much that there is little more that can be done with it and feels original. This is just the start of the problems of “The Haunting of Borley Rectory”.

The first scene serves as advice of what the rest of the movie will be like. In this scene, the plot is set, mixing elements of horror and historic cinema. It also puts into perspective the problems of the movie, starting with a screenplay packed with dialogues that often feel unrealistic and rigid and uncharismatic acting. It’s worth pointing out that most of the limited cast have little to no acting experience besides this movie, so I don’t want to be too hard on the acting part.

The screenplay does little to interest the viewer in the plot and several times I found my attention drifting from the movie, The story moves in a slow and inconsistent way and every time that it seems like it will do something interesting, it ends up taking another path. I neither could get interested in the interactions between the characters as the dialogues are too long and don’t feel real and they are brought on screen on the most ungraceful way possible.

The technical part neither results in an enjoyable experience. The images of the nun that are supposed to be disturbing are overworked and it looks more like a cartoon. The tension can’t be maintained thanks to the inconsistent screenplay and the jump scares do not work as intended. On top of that, the way they choose to edit this movie ends up creating confusing and chaotic scenes, jumping from day to night and back or from dreams to reality without any reason or cue. Maybe this was a way to make the viewer suspicious about the crumbling mental health of the protagonist, but this it’s not worked out clearly or in detail.

“The Haunting of Borley Rectory” does not use well neither its horror elements nor the history of the haunted place it is based on. Thinking hard about what can be saved from this movie, almost nothing comes to mind. Following the plot with the chaotic screenplay and technical work is a challenge, and it feels forced and spasmodic. Nothing to recommend about this movie.

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