A young orphan, Stephen, is sent to go and live with his strange, much older cousin at his remote country house. Once there, Stephen experiences terrible dreams in which he sees a young girl and boy who are missing their hearts.
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A disquieting entry in this loose series of James adaptations with an unsettlingly musty appearance and hurdy-gurdy score decorating an even more disturbing tale of something approaching occultist paedophilic control. As ever, what is not said carrying more power than what is explicitly stated (the exposed heart carrying little of the charge of the more suggestively diabolical).
2.9 stars. Somehow spooky without being eerie. I think it shows just a smidgen too much. This is the story that makes me wonder if James was abused as a boy. Not always a good idea to read things autobiographically, but I think it potentially gets at some of the subliminated horror in his work. I liked the long fingernails, but as Ramsey Campbell writes, why don't the ghosts use them instead of the ceremonial dagger?