During World War II, debonair English fighter pilot Lt. Toby Jugg (Robert Pattinson) is injured, confined to a wheelchair, and sent to convalesce in a private country hospital. When the one and only nurse on the isolated property gives the invalid airmen an injection and whispers, "Hours of oblivion, guaranteed…" I thought she was talking about this movie.
Wow. Is The Haunted Airman ever boring. It's a 2006 BBC TV production being burned to disc now in order to capitalize on star Pattinson's Twilight crazed fan-base — and the tweens may eat him up with a spoonful of sugar, but there is an awful lot of bitter medicine to swallow for those of us with driver's licenses.
The Haunted Airman is based on a rather tedious tale published some 50 years ago by celebrated Brit bestseller Dennis Wheatley. To fans of arcane terror, Wheatley's best-known works are undoubtedly the novels which were adapted into Hammer films (The Devil Rides Out and To The Devil — A Daughter). I'm not the world's biggest Hammer fan, but they would have, er, nailed this inherently atmospheric, ephemeral tale a lot better than BBC workhorse Chris Durlacher (who directs and also takes a writing credit) did.
Taking place entirely inside the lightless, haunted manor, the story mostly focuses on the question of Juggs' tenuous grip on sanity (he sees spiders, he talks to dead people, he distrusts his doctor, and he imagines a love affair) but the flick never proceeds beyond its initial inertia into any semblance of horror or suspense.
Pattinson is fine. He does what he always does: Broods. He also smokes a lot of cigarettes while brooding. His costars Julian Sands (always excellent and still working, but best-known for the beleaguered Boxing Helena), Rachael Stirling (she's done a lot of British television), and Melissa Lloyd as Sister Sally Grant (who gives Pattison the aforementioned injection, as well as a sponge-bath which will surely incite envy in Twihards everywhere) are all up to snuff. But nothing… and I mean nothing… happens until the final frames. By then, if you are still awake, you simply won't care because you will have seen the not-so-shocking climax coming ages before.
The colors are leached and the cinematography is flat as a board, but at least The Haunted Airman is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The lone special feature is the 90 second trailer.
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