The Haunting of M. (1979)

Article 4507 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-17-2014
Directed by Anna Thomas
Featuring Sheelagh Gilbey, Nini Pitt, Evie Garratt
Country: USA
What it is: Ghost story

In 1906, when a photograph is taken at a party at the home of a genteel family, a mysterious presence who was not there appears in it. Shortly after this, the family’s dowager aunt falls ill, and the younger daughter begins acting strangely. Can the older daughter discover the secret of the photograph, and solve the family mystery?

Outside of the fact that certain aspects of this ghost story are left open-ended, there’s really not a whole lot to the story that I haven’t encountered before. However, the flavor of the movie is its main distinction; it’s staged and directed as a deliberately-paced period piece; in a sense, it can be described as having been done in the style of THE INNOCENTS. There’s not a whole lot in the way of overt scares; the movie is mostly interested in carefully doling out the details of the family secret while keeping it in pace with the the way the haunting manifests itself. In the end, I quite like it; its emphasis on character and subtlety are quite refreshing, and it managed to hold my interest throughout. However, many horror fans may well find the style of the movie to be quite boring, so whether you respond to it at all will probably depend on your patience for and appreciation of deliberately-paced period pieces.


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