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Borley Rectory will open its doors at Grimmfest
By James Whittington, Wednesday 4th October 2017

From the House On The Borderlands, to the Witch House, from Hill House to Belasco House, hostile, haunted, or demon-possessed real estate is one of the longest-established tropes in horror fiction, and one which very quickly established itself in cinema, too. Indeed, haunted houses appear in some of the very earliest films. The cynical explanation would be that a single, creepy location is always an effective backdrop for a narrative, and will keep the budget down, too. But it's more than this. Like the Home Invasion Film, the Haunted House movie plays on the darkest human fear of all - that we are not safe in the one place we most expect to be. That our refuge from the world is nothing of the kind. That home is where the threat is.

So it's no wonder that stories of "real" haunted houses hold a particular fascination for us all. The supposedly supernatural aspect of the events at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, spawned a whole cycle of films, which spiraled further and further away from the initial, already somewhat implausible "true" story.

And then there's Borley Rectory. The various baroque legends which grew up around this Gothic-styled Essex village rectory, led the celebrated paranormal investigator Harry Price to label it "the most haunted house in England". And it would later provide inspiration for such books as Shirley Jackson's aforementioned The Haunting Of Hill House and Richard Matheson's The Legend Of Hell House, so truth and fiction very quickly started to become a bit blurred..

But was there ever any truth in any of it? Price was a notorious self-publicist, and may very well have been playing to the galleries, telling the public what it wanted to hear. He had books to sell, after all.

This year's Grimmfest audience will have a chance to make up their own minds, as we present the Festival World Premiere of Ashley Thorpe's remarkable and unique cinematic exploration of this most celebrated of haunted houses. Featuring a score by sometime Banshee Steve Severin, and with a cast including the League of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith, Julian Sands and Nicolas Vince, Borley Rectory examines the myriad myths and legends, as well as the various controversial investigations, and uncovers a ghost story which reveals more about what might have been missing from the house than what might have been possessing it. Over six years in the making, it's a real labour of love; part documentary, part drama; combining traditional film-making techniques with an elaborate mix of rotoscoping, digital animation and compositing, using a mixture of live action, stills, paintings, and model work, to offer an immersive, atmospheric, and elegantly retro-styled tour of the most infamously villainous of village vicarages - a chance to follow in the footsteps of Harry Price, and enter Borley Rectory for yourselves... Long after it has been demolished. Who knows what might be waiting for you there?

Borley Rectory will have its Festival World Premiere Sunday 8th October at Grimmfest. For more details click here.


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