In its heyday of 1957-1983, Britain produced some of the greatest horror movies ever. It all took off with THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN in 1957 (however the excellent DEAD OF NIGHT from 1945 was the first great production IMO). Hammer, Amicus and Tigon competed against each other in the 1960s and early 1970s. All three have superb productions to their name. After their decline in the second half of the 1970s, two excellent independent directors - Pete Walker and Norman J. Warren - took over the mantle for a few years.
Other classics such as THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES and THEATRE OF BLOOD were made here in Britain by other companies.
The last true British horror movie was HOUSE OF THE LONG SHADOWS, the final and highly underrated masterpiece from Pete Walker in 1983.
British horror in its prime was truly fantastic. Americans and Europeans had no time for any of it back in the day but have since realised just how good it was. Some half-decent attempts such as HAUNTED came along to try re-igniting the old magic.
We now have the travesty known as KNIFE EDGE. Those who claim this is somehow a return to form need to watch some British horror classics again.
The plot here is compelling on paper. A married couple, along with their son, move into a country house. In the following days and weeks they begin having disturbing dreams and becoming paranoid.
It saddens me to see the comparisons made to classic movies here on IMDb.
KNIFE EDGE is nothing like THE CHANGELING.
It is nothing like THE OMEN.
It is nothing like WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?.
It is nothing like THE BIRDS.
And it is certainly nothing like Hitchcock's finest - PSYCHO.
The one thing this movie is unable to escape from is its drama-like feeling, reminiscent of TV shows like MIDSOMER MURDERS, but which are so out of place on the big screen.
The main problem here is the characterisation and the acting.
Emma and Henri do not make a convincing couple at all. There is no chemistry between the actors and the characters themselves seem to have incompatible personalities. One is a somewhat quiet but talented financial trader. The other is a smooth-talking Frenchman up to his eyeballs in debt and who gets irritated very easily. The tensions between the characters should have been great but the emotion just seemed absent.
Henri is played by Matthieu Boujenah, a French actor. The accent was clearly genuine and fit the character well but the emotions did not. After boring me to tears with his ramblings throughout, he then overacted very badly in one scene that made me laugh out loud.
Emma is played by an incredibly bland, charisma-free, dour actress known as Natalie Press. She was just boring to watch, full stop.
The one actor who does deliver a good performance here is Hugh Bonneville. He would have been equally great in the leading role. He has the right level of charisma and energy to pull it off. He was interesting to watch even though those he interacted with were so dull.
I have always thought that Joan Plowright would make an excellent villainess - someone very cold-hearted with malevolent intent. Sadly she is wasted here in a thankless role as a nanny.
The script is fatally flawed, with very boring dialogue. It tries to redeem itself by keeping scenes short and constantly changing setting. The tactic seemed good and would in theory help to keep things moving. But it doesn't.
Anthony Hickox brings very different direction from his father, Douglas Hickox (director of the masterpiece THEATRE OF BLOOD). His direction brings some superb disturbing imagery. But the effect of these was undermined by poor editing. Editing needed to be much sharper, character reactions needed to be much stronger and some better sound effects were needed.
Without giving anything away, I can say that the twists in the second half of the movie try to emulate those seen in movies such as HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE. But the revelations are done in a very low-key manner that makes it easy to miss something.
The final 10 minutes of the movie pick up some steam. But by this point it is too late. The finale is worth seeing on its own but not worth enduring the rest for.
Overall, KNIFE EDGE is an incredibly boring movie that tries but fails miserably to re-ignite British horror. With so many better thrillers such as DISTURBIA out there, it is difficult to recommend this to anyone. Instead, I would recommend seeing something from Britain's horror heyday and find out what true British horror is all about.