WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT **** UK 2012 86 mins

Based on an allegedly true case in Yorkshire in 1974, this small-scale but often very effective Brit alternative to THE AMITYVILLE HORROR has a vividly conveyed and depressing backdrop of energy shortages, power cuts, hideous wallpaper, 17% inflation and a time when Noel Edmonds fronted TOP OF THE POPS while John Denver was considered a sex symbol. For once, the central characters have a very good reason for staying at a “dream home” that quickly establishes itself as being haunted by a malevolent spirit : their biggest fear is dropping back down to the bottom of the council house waiting list. Some of the incidental details are pleasing (Dad starts charging £1 a head for visitors to poke around his increasingly dangerous abode) and both Tasha Connor, as the menaced adolescent heroine, and Hannah Clifford, as her eccentric new pal, are terrific. It loses effectiveness in the final half hour when the script demands more explicit supernatural manifestations and some conventional exorcism-based drama. Until then, however, it is genuinely eerie, with some excellent scares including an alarming toilet encounter and one of those “Oops, I shared a bed with a ghost” moments.

Review by Steven West

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