In the run-up to Halloween, I read and watched a number of ghost stories and other strange tales in fiction, film and TV. Everyday life at present seems weirder than fiction, but I must admit that I prefer strangeness in storytelling rather than in a world of masked passers-by and mysterious viruses. Stories are, at the very least, a wonderful escape. There was one particular film which I thought outstanding, but today I'm going to talk about The Sister, the fourth and final part of which aired on ITV the other day.
The story, told in part through multiple flashbacks, was adapted by Neil Cross from his own novel Burial, which I haven't read. Russell Tovey plays Nathan, who is married to Holly (Amrita Acharia). They are successful and live in a posh, if soulless house, and are trying for a baby without much luck so far. Nathan is, however, disturbed when a strange man, Bob Morrow (Bertie Carvel, in manic mode) turns up to tell him that a local woodland is being dug up to make room for new housing. Nathan panics, and no wonder.
To cut a long story short, it soon emerges that Nathan and Bob buried in the woodland the body of a young woman. This was Elise (Simone Ashley) and, although we don't at first know the circumstances of her death, we learn that she is Holly's sister. Obsessed by what had happened, Nathan sought out Holly and then fell in love with her. There are several creepy and unlikely elements to the story, but for me the one that really didn't work was Nathan's marriage to the dead girl's sister. Unfortunately, that's a cornerstone of the whole edifice.
Cross is a good TV writer, and The Sister has had one or two favourable reviews, but after an engrossing start, I thought it went downhill. Several aspects of the plot development seemed all too predictable, and I didn't really buy in to Tovey's portrayal of Nathan, which may be a criticism of the material rather than the actor. As so often with contemporary TV series, it could have done with ruthless cutting. There was, however, some compensation in the final twist.