Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Confessions of Dorian Gray: Blank Canvas written by James Goss and directed by Scott Handcock

What's it about: Two years after the death of Dorian Gray, his home is broken into… but the intruders aren’t expecting what they’ll find there.

The Painted Man: How very Dorian to have an answerphone message that climaxes with the succinct point 'If you're interesting, I'll get back to you...'  And for him to manipulate the young slips of things that have broken into his house. There is a reason it was boarded up, it is not a happy place. The house is Dorian's keeper now, loyal. Life caught up with him and he is no longer beautiful. The four victims would restore him back to health. One would give him voice, one body, one youth and one a soul.

Standout Performance: Gone is he pure velvet voice of Alexander Vlahos and in steps the huskier and more sinister tones of Bernard Holley. A staple of the Doctor Who ranges, Holley has the perfect, gravelly voice for audio and provides a chilling and world-weary Dorian to open the new season. Dorian is clearly in a disturbed place and I got the impression that both the character and the actor had a lot of fun in this moment of madness. He's genuinely frightening in the last scene, a haunting version of the character I recognise.

Sparkling Dialogue: 'It was a portrait of a man who knew he was damned. The story goes that as he knew one day he would end up in hell he constructed a way out. A fire escape, if you will. He made a more dangerous bargain, to restore his own life he would have to offer several more. Four would have been ideal. But three...three would suffice.'
'Don't turn round. I'm not a pretty sight...'

Great Ideas: My friend Kate and I have a penchant for horror movie nights and in particular we love the sorts of films where friends come together to investigate a creepy house or asylum in the dead of night with little more to protect them than a video camera. We must have seen dozens by now and more often than not they are pretty bad. If Dorian was to come back from the dead then I can think of no better way than for the creators to tip their hat to this particular sub genre of horror and have a group of youngsters exploring his house. In the first scene they are laughing and joking and you can almost be certain that come the conclusion at least one of will be dead and the truth about Dorian will have been spilled. They even reference that they are in something of a horror movie. Discovering blood, phones being left filming, shadows that lunge and terrify...all good horror movie material. Did I give Dorian a bad review once? There's a character called Joe who meets a very sticky end.

Audio Landscape: Telephone ringing, heavy breathing, screaming, laughing, doors opening and closing, footsteps, rewinding tape, mobile buttons, splashing water, draughty old attic, easing open the skylight, traffic, banging on the door, the wind from a great height, car alarm.

Standout Scene: There's a terrible (as in the character acts in a terrible fashion, not that it is a terrible moment) in Blank Canvas when you realise that is entirely without honour and will leave his friend at the mercy of whatever horror is brewing in Dorian's house in order to escape himself. Do watch yourself ladies if an attractive young guy suggests that you visit a creepy old house on your first date. Chivalry is dead, you know. There's something of Avon hunting Vila through the corridors of the shuttle in Gold to these scenes as a cat and mouse game emerges amongst Sofia and to see which of them will survive.

Result: 'If you want me to escape, leave me the girl...' Almost clichéd in how it relies on horror movie tropes to see through its running time but confident in a way that only this series knows how to be, Bank Canvas kicks us into the third series of Dorian Gray with some aplomb. I've always rated James Goss as a writer and it would appear he is quite adept at pulling off the condensed hit of horror that this range excels in. Coupled with typically strong direction from Scott Handcock (much of this story relies on how it is realised) and you have a stylish piece to re-introduce the character after he bought the farm at the climax of last season. Much like the beginning of Bloodlust, this features three new characters who are completely unaware of the central concepts of the range so this is an ideal jumping on point as it is effectively a reboot of the series. I certainly wouldn't suggest that, the first two seasons were sublime but you could step into the series at this point and head backwards at a later date. I would even go as far to say that this story could be longer, with more chance to flesh out the characters and revel in the haunted house formula but it does exactly what is needed and that is to restore Dorian to his former glory. Minus one very important element that I'm sure will play a very important part in this season. Creepy stuff: 8/10

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent as this review is in all ways, one nitpicky complainant - you meant "Orbit" not "Gold" regarding your Blake's 7 reference! :)