DARK DITTIES: THE WITCHING HOUR **** UK 2019 Dir: Adam Evans. 85 mins
The second episode from the third season of Amazon’s “Dark Ditties” comic-horror anthology series (created by Adam Evans, Gary Smart and Neil Morris) is a lot of fun, both as a stand-alone feature and as part of the bigger Ditties “universe”. “The Witching Hour” is a cheesy 17 year old TV series following two ageing paranormal investigators: aloof, theatrical Selwyn (Ian Gelder) believes in never working with children animals or “the bloody working class” while phoney, purple-clad sidekick Marvin La Fantome (Bruce Jones) is unflatteringly likened to Doris Stokes. Their careers have waned to the point where returning to portray the back end of a panto cow seems inevitable, and their show – dogged by a child fatality on live TV – is “on Channel Shit at Shit o’clock in the morning with no shitting viewers”. A new lease of life beckons, however, when they get a scoop involving notorious executed cult leader Tyberius Kane (Ethan McKinley), the Holy Grail of paranormal circles. Gelder and Jones bring a lot of gusto to this very British, often funny peek behind the scenes of post-“Most Haunted” tacky ghost-hunting shows. The dialogue references everything from FRANKENSTEIN to The Chuckle Brothers and the secondary characters are wittily played – especially Simon Bamford’s exposition-spouting groundsman (“That’s the camera, is it?”), whose mid-credits gag is worth waiting for. It hits a sweet spot somewhere between Ealing comedies and INSIDE NO.9, shifting from broad humour to gory shocks and even moments of well-earned pathos. Sean Schafer Hennessy adds production value with his robust, atmospheric score.
Review by Steven West