After a promising first half this supernatural thriller starts flailing, but its overdone finale doesn't dispel the initial understated creepiness. Recuperating from the loss of their young son Tommy, Ellen (Amanda Plummer) and Martin Shaw (Sean Pertwee) move to the secluded English countryside. At first they seem to be moving forward: Martin stars to overcome his writer's block and Ellen refurbishes the dilapidated manse. But then Ellen begins experiencing visions foretelling her death in seven days, and an increasingly sarcastic Martin turns the basement into a private sanctuary. When she befriends a stray dog, Martin makes it clear that he resents the animal's presence, so when the mutt is butchered, Ellen suspects him of the foul deed. Paranoid about Martin's aloofness, she starts looking into the checkered past of their dream house on the bogs and learns from a retired local policeman that the former occupant murdered his wife. Ellen makes a desperate trip to the insane asylum to the killer's brains, and eventually discovers that the house has been the site of other mysterious homicides. As far back as the Middle Ages, convicts were thrown into the quicksand marsh that adjoins the property. Horrified by her proximity to this graveyard of the damned, Ellen watches Martin grow progressively more hostile while trying to reconcile sightings of her son's ghost with the malevolent spirits nearby. Is Tommy's specter a beneficent manifestation of her child or a demonic impostor that has infected Martin's mind? In the film's caution-to-the-wind climax, the actors to betray their previous subtlety; Plummer reverts to Method-acting gimmicks, while Pertwee does a poor impressions of Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING impression. But despite this finale full of ham acting, swamp ghosts and special effects, it's hard to shake off the film's suggestion that emotional vulnerability enables supernatural evil to subvert an ordinary couple's sanity.
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