Playhouse (2020) reviews of Scottish castle horror

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[Total: 17   Average: 2.5/5]

‘Some stories should never be told’

Playhouse is a 2020 British horror feature film about a notoriously irreverent writer who moves into a Scottish castle to completely focus on a new play. However, the castle’s dark history and supernatural disturbances begin to prey on his teenage daughter and she falls victim to the demonic forces lurking within the walls…

Written, produced and directed by Fionn Watts and Toby Watts, the Far North Film production stars William Holstead, Grace Courtney, Eilidh McLaughlin and Helen Mackay.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …narratively it’s often inconsistent, but it has a wealth of atmosphere. Despite its languid pace, it builds up a number of creepy moments, and its gothic story harmonises well with the location. This won’t be for everyone, but I really liked it.” Dark Eyes of London

“There are issues with pacing, particularly in the first half, and The Watts Brothers don’t quite deliver the climax you’re expecting as the film progresses. There’s stuff to build on here for sure such as the mostly good performances and the knack for atmosphere The Watts Brothers have. What needs most work is the storytelling.” Entertainment Focus

Playhouse is strong on atmosphere, with an instinctive understanding of the possibilities offered by the location. For all its difficulties, it’s a bold first feature, and its stronger moments will stay with you.” Eye for Film

“As the threat becomes increasingly abstract, the storytelling hinges more and more on a central metaphor, about artists needing to go to dark places for their work. It’s fine in theory, but the way it gets presented is too laboured, and the thematic resolution to builds to is both too neat and short. It doesn’t help that it happens just as it’s beginning to get going.” Horror Cult Films

“There’s much to relish in Playhouse. Even if the ratio of suspense-to-reveal means a certain amount of circling gets self-conscious and the structure feels repetitive, it doesn’t do a major disservice to some very decent scares and you’ll still be thrilled to suspend your disbelief.” Horror DNA

“Made with no money but a fabulous location, this first-time directorial effort by Toby and Fionn Watts feels like an attempt at a modern-day riff on Roger Corman’s Poe pictures, and while they score points for atmosphere a bit more attention to the screenplay would have greatly improved things.” House of Mortal Cinema

“It has a great, dour, widescreen look and the performances have real attack – though none of the central quartet of characters are people you’d want to be around, and it’s a wonder they don’t get slapped more often than they do.  The Watts’ don’t go in for jump scares, but so spring a couple of genuinely chilling moments.” The Kim Newman Web Site

” …the late rally of the spectacular fails to rescue a muddled denouement that leaves more questions than conclusive answers […] Although Playhouse is clearly made with much passion and commitment a plethora of idiosyncracies flatten its vital signs and will leave hardened horror fans feeling frustrated, underwhelmed and ultimately misunderstood.” The People’s Movies

“The Watts brothers have given a fine effort as new directors too: the progression of the characters, the development of the mood, the gradual introduction of the supernatural… more of the same, please, gents! Even the special effects and the background score are nicely done. The main issue that lets the film down is the patchy quality of the acting…” Ready Steady Cut!


Playhouse had its world premiere at Frightfest in London in August 2020. Meanwhile, Devilworks will be distributing the movie worldwide.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

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Cast and characters:

• Eilidh McLaughlin … Alex
• Helen Mackay … Jenny Andrews
• William Holstead … Jack Travis
• James Rottger … Callum Andrews
• Jim Page … Football Commentator
• Julie Higginson … Samantha
• Grace Courtney … Bee Travis
• Mathilde Darmady … Katie
• Rebecca Calienda … Kathryn

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