Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Voice From the Stone (2017)

“Reminiscent of CRIMSON PEAK”

Regular readers will be well aware of what I thought of CRIMSON PEAK, and here’s another ‘gothic mystery’ that looks lovely. VOICE FROM THE STONE is getting a DVD VOD & EST release from Precision Pictures just after its UK premiere at this year’s London Frightfest.

Tuscany 1950. Verena (Emilia Clarke) is a young (but very experienced according to the dialogue) governess whose latest post is to look after Jakob, a young boy who has not spoken since his mother died in the opening scene. 

Jakob has a habit of crouching next to a wall (made of stone) where Verena believes he can hear his mother talking. He also likes swimming in the local (stone) quarry and his 1950s-style uncommunicative father Klaus (Marton Csokas) who wants to get Verena into bed just happens to be a sculptor (in stone, and eventually of nude Emilia Clarke as it so happens, just in case anyone reading this was wondering).

So anyone watching VOICE OF THE STONE hoping for lots of references to stone will not be disappointed. Anyone expecting a ghost story akin to Jack Clayton’s THE INNOCENTS or Alejandro Amenabar’s THE OTHERS will be, however, as the film offers us plenty of lovely atmospheric visuals but precious little in the way of anything else. Which is why I’ve suggested fans of CRIMSON PEAK might like it. 

The finale suggests that something supernatural has occurred, but to be honest it’s a good finale in desperate need of a good film directed by someone with the competence, integrity and confidence to carry it through. Sadly VOICE FROM THE STONE is not that film. 

Clarke, well known for her standout role as Daenerys in GAME OF THRONES lacks the maternal eroticism (and authoritativeness) of a Deborah Kerr or the nervy sexuality of Nicole Kidman, with the result that one finds oneself constantly questioning whether she is actually up to looking after children in scary gothic Tuscan mansions at all. Marton Csokas gives us a perfectly serviceable troubled widower and father of troubled son, but the most interesting casting here for films fans will be Lisa Gastoni (Antonio Margheriti’s 1966 WAR OF THE PLANETS  and BLUE MURDER AT ST TRINIANS) in a twist so throwaway it’s almost an insult.

Precision’s DVD comes with cast interviews. Amy Lee (yes that Amy Lee of regularly changing line-up band Evanescence due to allegedly being ‘a bit difficult to work with’) sings the theme tune, and you get a five minute video of her performing it that is actually a far more satisfying experience than the film itself. 

Looking lovely, but with ultimately little of substance, VOICE FROM THE STONE is the kind of film you can safely recommend to elderly relatives who enjoy non-threatening gothic dramas where you don’t have to be awake throughout the entire thing to understand it. 

VOICE FROM THE STONE has its UK premiere at London Frightfest on the Splice Media Discovery Screen One on Friday morning, 25th August. It's out on DVD, VOD and EST from Precision on Monday 28th August 2017

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