A freaky Halloween treat

Published date01 November 2022
Publication titleSignal
I think it would be really fun to cast a child actor in the role of ‘‘freaky little creep’’. It can’t be fun casting child actors for literally any role other than that. Can you imagine the plummy audition tapes you have to trudge through. The unbearable earnestness of their polite little voices. The whispering encouragement of parents off screen. How weirdly unconvincing children are when you ask them to play a ‘‘child’’. No wonder the industry tried to get as many movies out of Macaulay Culkin as possible before puberty got to him. He was the only kid who could ever act

Anyway, there’s a weird little creep boy in The Devil’s Hour (Prime Video), you will be pleased to hear. He’s really horrible. He’s always staring through windows at nothing while not blinking. Every time you hug him in the dead of night he goes: ‘‘Mummy, who’s that man?’’ then you turn round, afraid, and stare at nothing. All his teachers are frightened of him. His own father is frightened of him. He looks like he’s cold to the touch. He waves too slowly to be in any way normal. I want him very far away from me.

The Devil’s Hour has all the component parts to be very, very good. It has Peter Capaldi back in intense, unblinking, talking-with-his-bottom-teeth-out mode, which is where he’s at his best. Jessica Raine is doing a superb job as Lucy, the whirring centre of the whole thing: she’s playing the three roles of ‘‘haunted woman who keeps jolting awake at 3.33am after a recurring nightmare’’, ‘‘firm but caring boss at the underfunded social services unit’’ and ‘‘mum to a creepy little horrible goth boy’’, and doing each of them from a really interesting, charming new angle. Nikesh Patel’s first scene is him doing the most unconvincing cigarette smoke I’ve ever seen committed to screen, but then he starts to bite into the dense role they’ve created for him as the wunderkind detective with a grizzled Scottish partner.

There’s something intricate and spooky going on — shades of that first series of True Detective before the bad finale — and even the one-scene supporting actors have been well cast: every false lead they interrogate, every blind alley they run up, is fun to watch unfold. People walk carefully into rooms plastered with a man’s scribblings while holding a torch up to see a...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT