Grace (Nicole Kidman), a devout Christian, is raising her young children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) alone in her large country manor home in Jersey while her husband, Charles (Christopher Eccleston), is away fighting in World War One. Both children suffer from an uncommon disease and are photosensitive so the curtains are always closed.
Just as she needs them, three new servants turn up at the house hoping for work: a maid and nanny, Mrs Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), a gardener called Mr. Tuttle (Eric Sykes) and a young mute girl called Lydia (Elaine Cassidy).
The children are determined that the house is haunted by several spirits, especially that of a young boy called Victor, but Grace pooh-poohs this. That is until she begins to suspect something is wrong herself.
A quiet and slow-burning film that has the feeling of an older horror-thriller. Well paced and intriguing enough not to become boring, but it doesn't make use of many jump scares and uses very few effects.
The child actors are terrific and really give an excellent performance. However, perhaps having seen too many twist endings in my time, and regardless of clever suspense building techniques, I guessed what was coming a lot earlier than I would have preferred.
Regardless, it's a good story and has a darker element to it than you might expect.
[Image: StudioCanal & Warner Bros.]