Grimmfest 2017 – Borley Rectory

The final day of Grimmfest 2017 saw one of the most creative, bizarre and utterly compelling horror films of recent memory, Ashley Thorpe’s labour of love, Borley Rectory.

The film, only finished a fortnight ago according to Thorpe, is the tale of the notorious rectory, so-called ‘the most haunted house in England’. Narrated by Julian Sands (Leaving Las Vegas) as though he’s reading a ghost story, the film creates this bizarre, layered world of live action mixed with digital animation which oddly enough, fits the story perfectly.

The rectory at Borley was the subject of intense paranormal investigation by the (in)famous Harry Price in the 1920s and was the inspiration behind such literary works as Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Richard Matheson’s The Legend of Hell House and Robert Wise’s 1963 film, The Haunting.

Borley Rectory takes the investigations of Harry Price and the prior legends of the paranormal entities in the rectory and presents them in a narrative. Shot in flickery black and white, it invokes the feeling of a film from the 1930s or 40s with director Thorpe suggesting: “It feels like it should be in a double feature with something like Dead of Night (1945).”

It’s quite unlike any other film you are likely to see as it feels like an odd mix of a recreation of different events yet still has a compelling narrative to it. It is the whole style of the film that makes it something special though as this compilation of different filmmaking styles on paper shouldn’t work and yet it seems Borley Rectory couldn’t have been made in any other way.

For fans of really old horror, this acts as somewhat of a love letter to that era in horror filmmaking. For those who are fascinated by the paranormal and ghosts, it’s a must watch.

Thorpe stated that the film will be doing a festival tour around the UK and is currently looking for distribution. The six years of creativity that Thorpe put into this film really shows in every tiny little detail. Sound editor Martin Pavey also deserves considerable credit for his part in creating the ghostly atmosphere that the film has.

Borley Rectory is certainly one of the most memorable film experiences you could ever have. Its classic horror feel, its bizarre style, its ability to tell the already immensely compelling stories surrounding the rectory at Borley and present them in a way that you feel the ghosts around you all add up to create a truly incredible film that is arguably the best of Grimmfest 2017.

To find out more about Grimmfest and Borley Rectory, visit

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