Baywatch – Film Review

There was hope Baywatch would be another meta-infused, smart-yet-silly TV show remake in the mould of the Jump Street movies. Sadly, this hackneyed reboot doesn’t even come close to matching the admittedly high bar set by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Instead, it takes everything beloved about one of the 90s’ cheesiest guilty pleasures – the stunning beach vistas, mild peril and, yes, bouncing boobs – and drowns them in a tidal wave of confused plotting, clunky one-liners and clanging stupidity.

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One-man charisma machine Dwayne Johnson is our David Hasselhoff surrogate, playing overzealous guardian of the sands Mitch Buchannon, who leads a crack team of impossibly attractive lifeguards tasked with saving lives on what has to be the most dangerous stretch of beach in the world. Needing to repair the division’s public image in order to secure extra funding, Mitch is forced to recruit obnoxious Olympian Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a disgraced pro-swimmer whose party boy antics earned him the nickname The Vomit Comet (and, yes, he does throw up in this movie. Twice.). Together with the rest of Mitch’s team, who appear so infrequently they’re barely worth a mention, they attempt to take down a nefarious drug dealer who’s responsible for a number of dead bodies that keep washing up on shore.

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The movie is at it’s best when it’s sending up the inherently ridiculous concept of lycra-clad lifeguards fighting crime. A slick opening rescue mission, which ends with Johnson’s Mitch striding out of the ocean, a prone wind-surfer in his arms, as the title splashes down behind him in giant, gaudy letters is the standout sequence; but there’s also some decent gags aimed at the TV show’s signature use of slow-mo and a clever repurposing of actual plotlines for some of the team’s previous investigations. Disappointingly, such zingers are few and far between as the filmmakers seem to be torn between making a whip-smart spoof of the TV show or a more straightforward comedy about the importance of teamwork. It ends up doing neither particularly well.

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Without a clear focus, screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift resort to relying on weak put-downs (“Bath time, shit head.”), boner gags, and occasional attempts at edginess which actually come across as tasteless missteps (“You’re like the Stephen Hawking of swimming, without the paralysis part.”). Don’t expect the story to offer much respite, though. The half-baked plot, which sees Priyanka Chopra’s sultry villainess scheming to privatise the beach so that she can sell drugs in the place she’s already selling drugs, is the kind of sub-CSI gubbins that would barely fill an episode of the TV series, and so inevitably feels overstretched for a two-hour movie. Add to that a bunch of peril-free set-pieces, not-so-surprise cameos from Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson (they’re right there in the opening titles) and obvious plot twists with all-too-easy resolutions, and you’ve got a movie flapping helplessly in the water, without even a lifesaver to cling on to.

Runtime: 116 mins (approx.)

Director: Seth Gordon

Screenwriters: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge – Film Review

It’s easy to forget the unexpected success of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Based on a simple theme park ride and starring an uninspiring collection of over-the-hill actors and fresh-faced unknowns, The Curse of the Black Pearl took everyone by surprise, birthing a ginormous franchise with its wildly exhilarating, raucously bonkers tale of double-crossing, yet cheekily heroic, pirates, all powered by a mesmerising lead performance by a resurgent Johnny Depp.

After three sequels of rapidly sinking quality, Salazar’s Revenge is an ambitious bid to recapture some of that anarchic spark and spirit. And while it doesn’t quite reach the swashbuckling heights of the original movie, it’s an exuberant return to form for the long-running series that represents one of the few pleasant surprises during an otherwise dispiriting summer blockbuster season.

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The introduction of some new blood to the cast certainly helps to liven things up a bit. In a snappy and moving pre-credits sequence, we’re introduced to a 12-year-old Henry Turner who’s searching the world for a way to free his father from the curse that has trapped him aboard the Flying Dutchman. We then skip ahead nine years to find a manly Henry locked away in the brig of a burning ship that’s under attack by an army of undead pirates, led by Javier Bardem’s seethingly evil Captain Salazar.

The one-time ruthless pirate hunter forces Henry to help him escape eternal purgatory inside the Devil’s Triangle so that he can seek revenge against the man who put him there: the infamous Captain of the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow. Desperate to rescue his father from his own curse, Henry instead teams up with spirited astronomer Catrina to save Sparrow and track down the mythical Trident of Poseidon, which has the power to free his father.

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Though the plot recycles many plot points familiar to previous outings – the vengeful villain trapped in a death-like state; the two young lovers from opposite sides of the tracks; a quest to find a magical McGuffin with nebulous powers – it goes about retelling them with an unfettered enthusiasm, adventurous spirit and an imaginative love of nautical-based smut, the kind of which has been sorely missing from the series of late.

Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who landed the job off the back of their wondrously crafted sea-faring adventure Kon-Tiki, also bring some fresh invention to the action set pieces. Standout sequences include a calamitous bank heist (featuring a bank being dragged through a town by horseback), Depp coming perilously close to being beheaded by a gyrating guillotine, and an unsettling encounter with a school of zombie sharks that’s not nearly as naff as it sounds.

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What a shame, then, that nearly all the main characters also happen to be a bunch a lifeless bodies, fruitlessly thrashing around the water with little hope of making a memorable impact on proceedings. Brenton Thwaites’ Henry is the worst served. Having been framed from the start as the hero of the story, as soon as a rum-addled Sparrow staggers onto the scene he’s swiftly forgotten, along with a potentially moving arc about his lifelong mission to reconnect with his absent father. It’s almost like Thwaites was chosen solely because he’s handsome enough to convince as the fruit of Orlando Bloom’s loins.

In fact, Jeff Nathanson’s script is littered with intriguing plot points that infuriatingly fall by the wayside. Sparrow’s dimming hopes of recapturing his past glories, a newly bling Captain Barbossa’s (Geoffrey Rush) reunion with a lost child, the fumbled love affair between Henry and Catrina all seem to get thrown overboard and are never seen again. There’s even an entire Naval fleet that spends the movie chasing after the various motley crews of duelling pirates for absolutely no reason at all.

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Only Kaya Scodelario’s precocious orphan Carina escapes with any credit. Intelligent, courageous and wilfully belligerent to all those around her, Carina is the real driving force of the movie, dragging to rest of this ragtag band of sorry scoundrels along with her as she cracks the long-held secret of the trident’s hiding place. There are many parallels to be drawn between Carina and Keira Knightly’s Elizabeth Swann – both strong women who break out of a patriarchal society – but the latter was often frustratingly sidelined by Depp and Bloom’s frequent sword swinging contests. Here’s hoping Scodelario doesn’t suffer the same fate in future instalments, her talents are not worthy of such treatment.

Because of this fumbled characterisation, we’re simply not persuaded to invest in what’s at stake for our would-be heroes and the finale feels listless and weightless as a result, with moments of heroic triumphs and emotionally devastating losses failing to have the intended impact.

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And that’s disappointing as it dampens what’s otherwise a triumphant return to form for Pirates of the Caribbean. It might not be the most original effort, but Salazar’s Revenge recaptures much of the simplicity and charm of the first movie, without skimping on the invention and silliness. Although further sequels are by no means guaranteed, even in this era of cookie-cutter follow-ups, there’s plenty on show here to suggest this swashbuckling franchise is far from sunk.

Runtime: 129 mins

Directors: Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg

Screenwriter: Jeff Nathanson

Stars: Johnny Depp, Brendan Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Javier Bardem

Country: USA

Star rating: 3/5

Doctor Who: The Pyramid at the End of the World

After last week’s mind-bending head-scratcher of an episode, which seemed to turn off viewers with its multiple timelines, ‘false’ realities and muddled plot resolutions, The Pyramid at the End of the World is a much tighter, more contained affair that feels all the more effective for it. Having set up the sinister Monks’ evil plan for world domination, this week’s episode sees the creepy foes set their scheme into motion. It’s a gripping invasion thriller with a conscience, offering plenty of twists and turns alongside some biting social commentary, and it all builds to a devastatingly emotional climax that feels all the more poignant in light of the horrific Manchester attack.

When last we saw the Monks they were preparing to launch a full scale invasion of Earth and we pick up the action with our fabulously robed enemies having taken up residence in a huge ancient pyramid where they are patiently waiting for their plan to take effect. Meanwhile, in a lab in Yorkshire, two scientists are testing a deadly bacteria that, if it became airborne, has the potential to wipe out all life on Earth. Don’t worry though, these scientists (played by Rachel Denning and Tony Gardner) seem like dependable professionals. Except one of them has broken her glasses and doesn’t have a spare pair (has she never heard of Specsavers?). Oh, and the other one is nursing an epic hangover. On second thought, it might be best to keep your windows and doors shut…

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Despite the potentially world-ending events at stake, the episode is surprisingly slow-paced and contemplative, inviting the audience to gradually piece together how these two initially separate plots intersect. It’s by no means an uninteresting watch, though, partly thanks to some snappy editing and camera work by Daniel Nettheim, who ensures a steady momentum is kept throughout. He also manages to retain the epic scope and feel of last week’s episode. The arial shots of the pyramid are particularly majestic, while its interiors are suitably spooky and surprising – even if the presence of the Monks makes it feel a bit like an episode of The Crystal Maze: Zombie Edition.

Co-written by Peter Harness and showrunner Steven Moffat, who last teamed-up for series nine’s politically-charged Zygon two-parter, The Pyramid unsurprisingly shares similar themes, even if the social commentary isn’t quite as overt this time around. The Monks haven’t plonked their pyramid just anywhere, they’ve chosen a point of strategic importance for the world’s three biggest armies – America, China and Russia – in the hope of provoking a diplomatic incident between these world powers. This clever set up raises the issue of whether these powerful nations can work together in order to resolve a crisis in the middle east, but it also takes some surprising turns.

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The Monks, unexpectedly, don’t launch any attack, nor do they retaliate to Earth’s show of military aggression; instead they invite each country’s representatives to take a glimpse into a future where humanity is on the brink of extinction before offering to rescue mankind. The catch? The human race must submit totally to the Monks and agree to live under their rule forever. It’s an intriguing premise, exploring how fear can drive people to side with dangerous individuals and also how a feeling of desperation to can see people make reckless decisions.

Such desperate situations are where the Doctor shines, and it’s a delight to see Peter Capaldi’s Twelve getting back to his usual eccentric, slightly bolshy self after last week’s more vulnerable appearance. Though he’s still suffering the effects of blindness, he refuses to let a little thing like a lack of sight hold him back, enlisting the help of his trusty sonic sunglasses and Matt Lucas’ Nardole to guide him through the mission. It’s always thrilling to watch the Doctor in his element – saving the human race from an alien foe – and he’s in full flow this week, charging down hallways, making smart people feel stupid and conjuring up completely mad schemes in order to save the day.

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All of which makes those dramatic final scenes all the more devastating. Having successfully outmanoeuvred the Monks by plotting to blow up the Yorkshire lab in order to sterilise the bacteria, the Doctor finds himself trapped in the quarantine bay unable to unlock the doors as he’s too blind to punch the code into the keypad. The moment where the Doctor confesses to Bill that he’s been keeping his loss of sight a secret, which prompts Bill to consent to the Monks’ demands in order to save him, is truly heart-wrenching and emotionally wrought. Capaldi and Pearl Mackie play the scene superbly – you really do feel the anguish and desperation of Bill’s choice and totally believe the Doctor’s despair that the human race has been sacrificed to save his life.

The Pyramid at the End of the World might not boast the bangs and whistles you might expect of an alien invasion thriller, but it’s an intelligent and enthralling sci-fi story all the same, posing plenty of big, challenging questions about the world today while offering an epic scale and scope that wouldn’t look out of place on the big screen. And that emotionally-charged finale leaves things perfectly poised for next week’s concluding chapter to the Monks Trilogy.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Film Review

Having gleefully geezerfied Sherlock Homes to unexpectedly thrilling effect, cockney filmmaker Guy Ritchie hopes to pull off a similar trick with this fast-and-loose take on another of England’s legendary heroes. Yet, despite overflowing with the director’s trademark visual brio – there’s enough crash zooms, freeze frames and speed ramping to give you whiplash – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is an unrelenting bore, taking all the best bits from the classic tale and burying them in a mound of overblown set-pieces, confusing supernatural elements and one of the worst celebrity cameos of all time.

The opening scenes, at least, are exhilarating. After swiftly establishing a world where humans are waging war with magical beings known as mages, who have the power to possess the world’s animals, we’re dropped right into the heat of battle as a herd of 350-foot elephants storm the last remaining human stronghold, Camelot. Eric Bana’s King Uther Pendragon makes a valiant last stand, beheading treacherous mage Mordred with the help of his magical sword Excalibur – its chief power seemingly to ignore the existence of gravity – to bring peace to the land.

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The victory celebrations don’t last long, however, as Pendragon’s evil brother Vertigen (Jude Law) does what evil brothers are wont to do, orchestrating the killing of his brother and sister-in-law, and taking the throne for himself. Fortunately for the movie’s runtime, Pendragon’s only heir, Arthur, escapes death and winds up on the streets of Londinium where he’s taken in by a group of kindly prostitutes. Many years later, a fully grown Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) is summoned for his customary encounter with Excalibur, which forces him to go on the run and to team up with a ragtag band of freedom fighters to topple Vertigen’s regime and reclaim his rightful place as King of England.

The movie has its moments where it almost flickers to life. A rapid-fire montage charting Arthur’s rise from penniless brothel urchin to streetwise gang leader is a stunning show of Ritchie’s stylistic panache, while his trademark stunt of having characters recount cheeky escapades amid restless camera movements offers a much-needed injection of energy at times. Yet, the director’s limited bag of tricks can do little to liven up what feels like a relentless trudge through a standard orphan-overthrows-evil-uncle storyline. The plotting is incredibly lazy, trotting out the same old obstacles for Arthur to overcome – he initially rejects his destiny and later suffers a crisis of confidence after an unexpected tragedy. At times it feels like we’re simply treading water, waiting until there’s enough minutes on the clock to justify launching the obligatory CGI bonanza that could’ve been taken from the finale of any of this summer’s blockbusters.

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None of that would necessarily be ruinous if the characters were at least interesting company for 120 minutes. Yet the majority of the cast barely register, many of them being bestowed with laughable cockney nicknames like Kung-fu George and Goosefat Bill in place of actual character development. Meanwhile, Hunnam makes a rather risky choice to play Arthur as one of those unbearably bolshy Essex lads who thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room because he’s ‘from the streets’. Needless to say, the risk doesn’t pay off. There’s even room for an unspeakably awful cameo from Ritchie’s new pal David Beckham, who somehow fails to convince as a menacing cockney despite being born in Leytonstone. Giving your inexperienced mate a speaking role in a big budget movie is bad enough, but the fact that Becks’ appearance undermines a pivotal moment in Arthur’s story is frankly unforgivable. At least Jude Law appears to be enjoying himself. Having seemingly realised the movie’s not worthy of his talents, he simply takes the opportunity to chow down on every piece of scenery in sight while playing slimy big bad King Vertigen.

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Guy Ritchie is hardly known for his narrative dexterity or deep character work, but there’s a minimum expectation that his films will be a relentless ride of incendiary entertainment. Yet even his familiar visual flourishes – whip pans, Tarantino-esque storytelling tricks, macho banter – are beginning to wear thin. You get the feeling that Ritchie knows it, too, as he ramps up the legend’s mystical elements to compensate. Sadly, no amount of slithering sea monsters, trippy psychic possessions, or exotic giant elephants can make up for a creaky and redundant film that’s as unrelentingly dull as King Arthur. The hope was that this movie would launch a six-film franchise to rival Lord of the Rings. Based on this lacklustre effort, you’ll probably get shorter odds on Becks winning a Best Actor Oscar.

Runtime: 126 mins approx.

Director: Guy Ritchie

Screenwriters: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Joby Harold

Stars: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Eric Bana, Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey

Film [RATING:2]

Doctor Who: Extremis – TV Review

Up to this point, series 10 of Doctor Who has been largely focused on gently sketching out the burgeoning relationship between the Doctor and his new companion Bill. Minds have been blown, bonds formed and relationships tested as the new TARDIS duo embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the Time Lord’s favourite adventure spots – present day England, period-era London, the distant future and deep space. Extremis marks the moment series 10 steps up a notch, boldly unveiling some of the mysteries that have been teased throughout previous episodes and posing plenty of new ones to chew over for the remaining four episodes.

The action picks up in the aftermath of Oxygen, with the Doctor still blind and somehow concealing the fact from an incomprehensibly oblivious Bill. There’s little time for the Doctor to adjust to his new situation, though, as a surprise visit from the Pope himself pulls him into an ancient mystery. The Vatican has long been the protector of an age-old book, the Veritas, which, as the title suggests, promises to reveal the ultimate truth to anyone who reads it. The only problem is, once someone has learned its secrets they’re immediately driven to kill themselves. With Tom Hanks seemingly unavailable to tackle this particular Catholic conspiracy, it’s left to the Doctor, Bill and Nardole to unravel the truth before anyone else loses their life.

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Extremis certainly feels more epic in scope and feel than any previous episode this series. From the opening scenes, which see Capaldi’s Doctor sailing towards a Hogwarts-esque castle, to a trip to the hauntingly surreal Vatican library, it’s clear director Daniel Nettheim has been given plenty of license to create the most bold, cinematic visuals possible. We’re even treated to a fantastically sinister monster in the form of the Monks. The sinewy, vampiricly decrepit sect of ancient beings are absolutely terrifying, especially during one nightmarish sequence in which a discombobulated Doctor is pursued through the Vatican. Crucially, they’re not some misunderstood alien with a forgivable motive for their actions – they simply want to takeover the world and have a frightening plan to do it.

That’s not to say that writer Stephen Moffat completely abandons the more unhurried, contemplative approach to storytelling that has defined series 10. Despite the dramatic stakes, there’s very little of the hurtling down corridors, fiery confrontations or zippy special effects you might expect from the Doctor when the freedom of the world is on the line. Instead, Moffat is more than happy to let the mysteries unfold at their own pace, gradually raising the tension as the Doctor and his companions slowly piece together the secrets of the Veritas and uncover the Monks’ sinister plot. And it still leaves plenty of new mysteries for next week’s follow-up episode to explore.

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Still, he can’t resist a little bit of timey-wimey narrative play, cutting between the action in the Vatican and those earlier scene of the Doctor paying a visit to an alien civilisation, led by Ivanno Jeremiah’s (Humans) Rafando, tasked with maintaining population levels throughout the universe. These scenes feel largely like an unwanted diversion from the main plot, often sapping momentum and tension away from the Doctor’s immediate plight, but they come with a delightful payoff when we discover the castle is essentially a rather swanky death row prison for Michelle Gomez’s Missy.

Yes, the unhinged Time Lady is back, but in a much more different form than we’ve seen her before. She might still be cheekily defiant at times, but Missy’s appearance is dishevelled and she’s clearly in a much more vulnerable state as she awaits execution by the Doctor himself. Gomez, of course, plays this broken crackpot persona beautifully. While the revelation that Missy is indeed the person hidden in vault, the Doctor having agreed to stand guard over her body for 1000 years, is perhaps underwhelming, the scenes between the two are powerfully and emotionally charged as Missy begs the Doctor for help, reminding him that of their long, enduring ‘friendship’. Of course he would help her. Whether Missy actually appreciates being locked in a box is another matter entirely…

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Missy isn’t the only weakened Time Lord, of course, with the Doctor still suffering the effects of the blindness caused in last week’s episode. It’s fascinating to see Capaldi playing a damaged Doctor. He’s less sure of himself, and more reliant on the support of others than we’re used to seeing from him – even if he refuses to let his disability slow him down in the face of a deadly enemy. Capaldi sells every step of this struggle spectacularly, and he even gets to deliver a couple of defiant speeches as he outsmarts both the Monks and Rafando. Not bad for an old bloke with dodgy eyesight.

With the Doctor spending most of the episode isolated by his own problems, Bill and Nardole are left to form their own unexpected double act as they uncover the Monks’ Earth invasion simulation before anyone else. While their scenes end up feeling superfluous to the plot and their relationship never quite gels as well as we’d hope, it at least gives Matt Lucas the opportunity to explore a different side of his character. It turns out that, far from the comedy butler he appears to be, Nardole is actually a bit of a badass and it’s fun to see him take the lead this week, keeping both the Doctor and Bill in check as he delves deeper in the series overarching conspiracy. We also finally learn how Nardole ended up becoming the Doctor’s chaperone – he was sent by an ailing River Song shortly before her death. The betting for a surprise River cameo in the series finale start here.

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As the first of what’s being called the Monk trilogy, the episode understandably feels incomplete. Nevertheless, Extremis is a promising and intriguing start, gently unravelling the mysteries at the heart of the series while expertly ratcheting up the tension in a way that leaves things perfectly poised for next week’s instalment. Saturday evening can’t come soon enough.

Doctor Who: Knock knock – TV Review

Frightening is the best word to describe the latest episode of Doctor Who’s tenth series. Toying perfectly with the gang of pesky kids trapped in a haunted mansion trope, Knock Knock is basically a 45-minute teen horror movie, offering scares, creaks, thrills and chills aplenty, with a sprinkling of Doctor Who magic thrown in for good measure. And while it might not be the most inventive fright fest you see this year, if you’re a fan of the things it apes, this Mike Bartlett-penned story is a spooky throwback that offers a refreshing change of pace in a series thus far dominated by character-driven episodes.

Having survived a swarm of flesh-eating nanobots and a brush with a giant monster under a frozen River Thames, Bill is finally settling into student life, making friends with a group of freshers who invite her to move in with them. Of course, that means enlisting the services of a smarmy estate agent who merrily carts them between prospective properties, each more dire than the last, until they bump into a friendly looking landlord, played by David Suchet. He shows them around his old, spacious mansion, available at a suspiciously cheap price. But before the gang can move in to their perfect student digs they have to agree to one rule: don’t enter the locked tower, which seems to be the source of the mysterious tapping sound that echoes through the house.

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Knock knock is undoubtedly one of the scariest Who episodes for a long while. Returning director Bill Anderson deftly creates an unsettling atmosphere within the groaning, isolated house by utilising old-school scare tactics. A lightening storm is raging outside, shutters burst open out of the blue, floors boards creak incessantly, blood-curdling screams can be heard off screen, and, worst of all for any millennials watching, there’s no wi-fi connection. All expertly crafted to ramp up fear factor to maximum levels (for a family show, at any rate). This is one to watch barricaded behind sofa with a healthy supply of cushions.

Much of this series has been focused on sketching out the burgeoning Doctor-companion relationship between Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie, but this episode offers a welcome opportunity to get lost in a spooky, absorbing yarn. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any intriguing moments for the TARDIS duo. There’s further signs of a slightly more combative dynamic forming between the pair as Bill tries to keep her adventures with the Doctor separate from her personal life – which leads to a particularly hilarious interaction where Bill tries to pass off the Time Lord as her nosey grandfather. Capaldi, meanwhile, is in his element here, catching wind of the strange goings on before anyone else and swiftly dancing into the heart of the trouble in order to find the truth behind the suspicious happenings.

While there’s still very little time given to the supporting cast (the students really only exist to add to the bodycount), Knock knock finally presents us with a fully-formed imposing villain in the form of Suchet’s creepy landlord. Appearing at first as a kindly old man who offers desperate students a place to stay, the Landlord soon reveals his more sinister intentions. It transpires he’s in tune with an infestation of alien creepy crawlies, which break out of the woodwork and devour the house’s human inhabitants. The bugs are suitably unsettling and Suchet is rather brilliant, possessing a palpable intensity of presence to convey his threat with a mere whisper or look as his pops into view without making a sound.

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As any horror fan will know, the bumps and scares work best when we don’t have a clue what’s going on. When everything happens just out of sight, the mind can only wander to dark places to try to explain them, and for the majority of this episode Anderson plays on our natural inclination to fear the unknown perfectly. It’s unsurprising, then, that the fear factor lessens the more we learn about the house’s true nature. Fortunately, Knock knock has more to it than simple shock value.

Rather than quietly petering out as the mystery is solved, the story gently transitions into something altogether more profound and emotionally devastating. In a classic Doctor Who twist, we learn that the Landlord is not acting out of pure malice but out of love for his ailing mother. Having found a way to save her as a child, he has spent his entire life caring for her, luring students into the house every two decades to feed the bugs that are keeping her alive. The big reveal is perhaps spoiled slightly by the dodgy effects work used to bring Mariah Gale’s wooden facade to life, but it does nothing to temper the impact of the heart-wrenching moment the Landlord realises he has to let his mother go. Again, Suchet is tremendous.

In the end, Knock knock is another strong episode for series 10. Breaking from the trend for slower, character-driven stories, it delivers a gripping tale that, while offering nothing new in the horror stakes, nevertheless provides an abundance of scares before knocking us all for six with an unexpectedly tender finale.