Dreadful Things
Urban Ghost Story


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1998 Dir: Genevieve Jolliffe. With: Heather Ann Foster, Stephanie Buttle, Jason Connery, Nicola Stapleton, Billy Boyd.

They don't come much more frightening than this. 'Set on a Glasgow housing estate overrun with chain-smoking, joyriding kids on drugs, ruthless debt collectors and foul-mouthed single mothers who are always battling against social workers to keep hold of their children.  And I haven't even mentioned the ghosts yet!

Lizzie Fisher (Heather Ann Foster) is a 12-year-old living in a high-rise on the estate.  Her mother Kate (Stephanie Buttle) is struggling to keep their household (consisting of herself, Lizzie and her younger brother) going.  As if it wasn't hard enough to be a single mother bringing up two kids, one of which (Lizzie) has been known to dabble in drugs and share the odd joyride in a nicked car, she is constantly being paid a call by the un-friendly neighbourhood loan shark (Billy Boyd), and now it looks like they're sharing their flat with a poltergeist.

Lizzie was involved in an ecstasy-fuelled joyride, which ended in tragedy, we discover that she died briefly but was revived by doctors, while her friend, a local boy who was also in the car was not so lucky.

The young girl begins to notice strange things happening and begins to believe that something came back from the dead with her.

Soon her mother, Kate, also becomes aware that something is happening. She seeks help (and after no doubt reasoning that there probably isn't that many ghostbusters in the Glaswegian Yellow Pages) eventually gets it from a newspaper reporter, John Fox (Jason Connery), who brings in paranormal experts to help her.

Lizzie continues to be tormented by her nightmares and visions, but our reporter friend is more interested in getting the story.  She is a moody child and the only friend she seems to have is another single mother who she often shares a cig with and confides in.

As the film goes on, Fox starts to believe that something weird is taking place and becomes more involved with the family and protective of them, even warning off the debt collector when he causes Lizzie to threaten to throw herself from the balcony.

It is not made clear whether the haunting is caused by the spirit of the boy that was killed in the accident.  The exorcists believe that it is a demon that was brought back from the time Lizzie spent dead following the accident.

In the end we discover a possible reason why Lizzie may have been visited by her nightmares and visions, but it is never said for certain whether the place is actually haunted.

The film has its creepy moments, but these give way to too much rational explanations as the films goes on, it obviously draws from other better haunting stories, such as The Haunting, Poltergeist and The Entity, but still worth watching and holds your interest until the end.