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playhouse movie poster 2020The problem I have with ghost stories is an absence of belief in ghosts. Not that that should be a problem… I don’t believe in hobbits, superheroes, or magic, but I still watch and enjoy The Lord Of The Rings, The Avengersand Harry Potter.

So I don’t expect any sympathy for sitting through an independent horror/ghost film like Playhouse because I’m just glad to have the opportunity to watch and review as many films as I’m given. Lockdown? Pah! Piece of cake.

Anyway… Playhouse is the story of a writer who buys a castle in North-Eastern Scotland. He goes and lives there with his teenage daughter, so that he can concentrate on his latest project; an interactive experience based on the horrific history of the building. As is always the case in stories of this ilk, a seemingly innocent bit of nonsense sets free the evil spirits… and chaos ensues.

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The World’s Most
Indispensable Movie App

The RunPee app tells you the best times to
run & pee during a movie
so you don't miss the best scenes.

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dd33803, 07/05/2023

This is a great app. I wish more people would support it

This app provides info about movies, reviews, ratings from people who have seen it before and after viewing. It has links to info about the movies. It let’s you know when there will be a lull in the action and how long it will last. If you want to know what happens during that time, you can check the brief synopsis (you have to click a link, so no accidental spoilers). It has a timer you can set (silent) to alert you to a break. It also tells you whether there is anything extra during or after the credits. It’s really a wonderful app. I’ve subscribed for a couple of years to support the developers, but I noticed some of the links to provide feedback didn’t seem to work today. They also made it free, with voluntary donations to see the pee-times. If you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to do so, and subscribe if you like it. I really hope the app is supported so it can continue to be maintained!

Developers note: RunPee doesn’t make much money but it supports itself nicely. Donations are appreciated, but not required. We’ll add as many movies to the database as we can until there are no more movie theaters.

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Our writer is Jack Travis (William J Holstead), and his daughter is Bee, short for Beleth (Grace Courtney). Now, I may be too severe, but they don’t seem to be the best casting choices. Not because of their acting skills, which are fine, but because their ages don’t seem to be far enough apart to be father and daughter. I don’t think it helps that Mr. Holstead has the look of Thomas Brodie-Sangster if he’d actually decided to age a few years.

Apart from Jack and Bee, the main characters are their neighbours Jenny and Callum Andrews (Helen Mackay and James Rottger), and Bee’s school friends Katie and Alex (Mathilde Darmady and Eilidh McLaughlin, who could make a living as a Karen Gillan impersonator).

The castle in question is Freswick Castle in Wick

It is a striking building in a wild and lonely location, but doesn’t look like your archetypal castle. It looks more like a large house; there are no turrets or crenellations — but it does date back to the 16th century — and it’s still occupied and available for hire. In fact, the writers/producers/directors Fionn and Toby Watts actually grew up there, and their father is the owner.

The Watts Brothers’ intimate knowledge of the building shows as, apart from a few minutes of footage at the neighbours’ house, the entirety of the film is shot in and around Freswick Castle.

The cinematography is excellent – moody and atmospheric — but that is helped by the castle being metres from the North Sea and within five miles of John O’Groats.

The acting is appropriate to the genre

The cast can do scared, bewildered, enraged, and all the other horror film emotions ranging from a light, deft touch through the spectrum, and finishing up chewing the scenery… but that is as it should be, and it never seems out of place or over the top.

Again, the usual spoiler awareness prevents me from saying too much about how the characters and the story develop, but there are a number of threads and family interactions both in the present day, and back when the evil deeds were first done.

Given this is the Watts Brothers’ debut feature, it stands up very well and defies the expectation to look like the — presumably — low budget. I look forward to their next feature.


Movie Grade: B-

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Don’t miss your favorite movie moments because you have to pee or need a snack. Use the RunPee app (Androidor iPhone) when you go to the movies. We have Peetimes for all wide release films every week, including DUNE part II, Drive Away Dolls, and coming soon King Fu Pana, The American Society of Magical Negroes, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, and Godzilla x Kong: The new Empire  and many others. We have literally thousands of Peetimes—from classic movies through today’s blockbusters. You can also keep up with movie news and reviews on our blog, or by following us on Twitter @RunPee. If there’s a new film out there, we’ve got your bladder covered.

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2 responses to “Indie Movie Review – Playhouse”

  1. Where in Scotland? A haunted Scottish Castle sounds like a great setting. Would have made a better movie poster to do something with a haunted castle image, and not that lame image above.

  2. If you look at the top right hand corner of mainland Scotland you’ll see John O’Groats. Follow the coast line back south for a few miles and there is Freswick Castle. 58° 35′ 10.54″ N, 3° 6′ 9.01″ W if you want to be precise!

    Be aware though… that building on the poster IS Freswick Castle; it looks more like a manor house rather than a Macbeth type Scottish castle.

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