Nic Wright

Review: Inside No. 9, Seance Time

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Whether in the graphic snap of a neck, or the subtle undertones of a life flashing before dying eyes, death is never that far from Inside No. 9.

The writers’ fondness for sticky ends combined with the freedom and fleeting nature of a portmanteaux series has allowed the Grim Reaper to cast its shadow over the program’s two series. But for this series’ final episode, Inside No. 9 takes a look at death from other side of the veil.

Opening on a severe building and a sinister melody, Séance Time sees a young woman welcomed to a séance by Tim Wannacott from Bargain Hunt.

And blow me down; it gets very spooky, very quickly. Spooky enough in fact, that most television makers would be content to put their feet up. But of course, we’re inside No. 9, and things are never quite what they seem.

In a mordant sending up of mardy, demanding actor types, things begin to go pear-shaped for the crew inside this imposing No. 9, who get more than they bargained for in the pursuit of cheap telly.

With the limited locations often allowing Inside No. 9’s episode to pressure-cook slowly, things come a little faster in this episode; with a plenty of angle-switching, Seance Time is more about big set pieces than its predecessors.

Despite that, however, it still succeeds as it always does in its level of biting humour, and delves well beneath the surface of what is comfortable to watch.

As the last few feet of the rollercoaster of tone that No. 9 has taken us on this series, Seance Time is played for unsettlement and all-out horror, while remaining the subversive, tricksy show it’s proved itself to be. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it?

A remorseless, teeth-baring creep-fest, in many ways, it’s a companion piece to series one finale The Harrowing, though there are a few more layers to the spooky-house-onion this time around.

“We’ve shown you our range,” it purrs, “dazzled you with our writing chops,” it says.

“And now, we’re going to scare the shit out of you. Night night.”

A series’ closing episode is its one last chance to get under the skin of its viewers before it slinks away over the horizon, into the limbo of potential re-commissioning, and by Jove if Séance Time doesn’t make the most of that opportunity.

No official word has yet come out about another series, but with its consistent quality, and growing critical acclaim, it would seem ludicrous not to bet on its return.

Until then though, you might want to leave that light on.