The Haunting at Preston Castle (2014) – By DM Rayton

If I’m in a rush or feel exceedingly lazy I use the drive-thru to deposit funds, but that particular day I felt like going in to flirt with the bank tellers. The two I had my eye on were Tracy and Melanie. By the end of the day only one would still draw breath, and I would have to be coaxed from an invisible cage.

Or box, perhaps. The mime wasn’t too descriptive.

With barely a whoosh, he was through the front door and pointing an automatic rifle at Melanie. The white grease paint never hid his intentions or rage, and the black-and-white stripes never obscured his well-maintained prison physique, but the small beret was a bit silly. I briefly wondered if mouthing silent-shouts of commands breached mime-ethics before being herded to the lobby along with several others.

One by one, he had us climb a small step-ladder into an invented cage, or box. Then he urged us to kneel down or sit, aiming the silenced rifle barrel at us even as he closed the imaginary lid over top. Two people uttered words of protest at the ridiculousness and both were, quietly, shot in the head.

Tracy stuffed money into a comical brown sack (with a spray-painted ‘$’) but made the mistake of saying she was done. And then she really was done, with a perforated forehead.

The mute menace tip-toed to the front door, victoriously let broad daylight flood the small branch bank, then quickly darted back in. Authoritative commands distorted by a megaphone came from the parking lot outside as the robber slammed the doors closed and engaged the locks. He shook his head slowly, the irony of a silent alarm probably settling in.

As he retrieved Melanie from her prison, I pulled out my tablet and waved his attention. I made sure he saw my earbuds before getting a nod of acquiescence to watch “The Haunting at Preston Castle.” After all, I figured the whole hostage situation would be at least a couple hours.

Physical packaging looked like a nice addition to a DVD collection. Shiny. Preston Castle itself has been investigated by the incredible sleuths at the Travel Channel for its ghostly phenomena, so based on a true story, sure, kinda. Cinematically engaging, although the ghost effects did seem rather two-dimensional. The acting was decent-to-good, depending on the situation and current conflict (the tendency to needlessly bicker just to artificially create drama is an ubiquitous issue that pervades all mediums of entertainment).

Synopsis: Two chicks and a hayseed go to semi-famously haunted Preston Castle and don’t come out.

Points of interest: the girls have a decent chemistry together, although their lives seem rather mundane for college-age; the dude is a dud, character-wise; his stories aren’t that scary, and definitely not entertaining enough for two sober 20-somethings; the dude is a dud, sex-wise– after the lone coital encounter (no boobage, by the way), he asks her if she’s ‘okay’ and she gets up with her tight jeans completely on; after that slutty scene, she doesn’t seem to be attracted to him anymore… there were more than a few Blair Witch-style handheld camera shots, including some moist nostrils; the castle itself is genuinely creepy as a setting, and the final death is the best.

Rating: 17.9 out of 25 Rayton Stars.

The mime was killed by a SWAT team, by the way. Melanie turned out to be a prude and broke up with me after only two weeks, without once putting out.