A 14 year old girl is murdered by a serial killer and watches from a fantasy land of her own creation as her family seek the truth as to what happened to her and come to terms with their loss.
Released to a veritable mixed bag of love and loathing, Peter Jackson’s adaptation of what was essentially a “kid’s book” is a combination of family drama, serial killer thriller and ghost story that actually works really well. Young Saoirse Ronan puts in a quality central performance as the murder victim, and the treatment of her family and relationships lacks the usual saccharine and clumsy melodrama you’d usually associate with subject matter such as this. The imagery of her fantasy world is beautifully realised and Stanley Tucci’s performance as the seemingly normal yet creepy killer combined with some great direction from Jackson subvert the mood of the film from normality to sinister and disturbing at will. Strangely uplifting for such dark subject matter, this film is an unpatronising snapshot of life as a teenager with Lynchian themes and Hitchcockian suspense embellished with some lush Burtonesque imagery.
Reminiscent of Jackson’s earlier Heavenly Creatures and his most under-rated film.