As a 1980s-born American who is not really a horror fan, I think I was probably destined to miss out on the joys of Hammer Films, but I am familiar with them from a distance — their story has some intersections with that of Doctor Who, after all. But Hammer Films is partnering with Bafflegab Productions to create Hammer Chillers, and Bafflegab is much more of a known quantity to me, having been behind the delightful The Scarifyers as well as Vince Cosmos: Glam Rock Detective. This week sees the release of The Box, the first of the Hammer Chillers, an anthology series of 30-minute horror stories on audio.
Like I said, I’m not a big horror fan — it’s just not a genre that does a lot for me — but The Box grabbed me from the beginning. The sound design and direction is stark, without being spare; just the opening telephone conversation between Con O’Neill as Sean Dickens and Zoe Lister’s Kim Lavery is eerie in and of itself. Dickens is an instructor at a maritime college who teaches a helicopter escape water safety unit; Lavery is the sister of a man who freaked out after going through “the box”, a helicopter crash simulator. But why?
Stephen Gallagher (writer of the Doctor Who stories Warriors’ Gate and Terminus) unfolds his script with care, aided by great sound design (unfortunately uncredited, as far as I can tell). The story builds slowly, with spooky moments, but the climax itself is great — chilling to the core. At 30 minutes, the story is perfectly paced, and I am looking forward to the episodes to come.
The Box (by Stephen Gallagher) will be released by Bafflegab in June 2013.