Harry Price: Ghost Hunter full movie review - Competent Mystery Story, If a Little Pedestrian in Terms of Pace
One of the delights of coming to a series "cold," so to speak, without any knowledge of who the "real" Harry Price, is that we can approach it on its own terms as an example of a mystery thriller without speculating about whether it is "true" or "untrue" to the historical past, whatever that means.
This is certainly the case with HARRY PRICE: GHOST HUNTER. The real Harry Price (1881-1948) gained a reputation as someone using the then innovative sciences of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis to understand the human mind as well as expose fraudulent mediums who spent a lot of their time touring music-halls and playing on ordinary people's gullibilities. Alex Pillai's production includes one such sequence where our eponymous hero (Rafe Spall) interrupts a performance given by Monsieur Lutrec (Simon Gregor), and ends up hitting the fraud on the chin backstage.
Yet the historical material should not be allowed to obstruct a good story. As with most investigator-heroes, the television Harry has a past; haunted by the specter of his dead spouse, he spends most of his evenings dreaming at his dreary home. It is only when he encounters spry ladies' maid Sarah Grey (Cara Theobold) that he decides to slough off his depression and look forward once more with fortitude. Having himself been involved in fraudulent activity, he decides now to devote himself to the cause of truth in unmasking other frauds.
The production manages some side-swipes at manipulative politicians such as Sir Charles (Michael Byrne) who is so preoccupied with getting his protégé Edward Goodwin (Tom Ward) elected as the new leader of the Liberal Party that he is prepared to go to any lengths to achieve his aims. The fact that Edward turns out to be a sleazy character whose faults are unmasked at the end is simply poetic justice.
As with most period dramas, the settings of early Twenties London are meticulously recreated, even though it seems that every sequence - whether interior or exterior - seems to have been shot using a smoke filter.
The story is little slow to get going, with perhaps too many swooping pans and unexpected zooms at the beginning designed to create a spooky ambiance. On the other hand the ending is cleverly staged through Sarah's point of view as she recovers consciousness, having been ruthlessly felled by Edward. MPs will do anything, it seems, to assert power over women.