Tobias Nilsson’s review published on Letterboxd:
An old alchemist legend leads to a treasure hunt, but not all treasures should be hunted.
I haven't gone all in on the Shocktober trend, where horror films should be watched every day of the month, but still, I figured I'd try and at least go out in style.
I've long enjoyed the classic goth horror stories of M.R. James, and so when I fell upon a film adaptation of his story The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, I had an instinctive feeling this might just be what the doctor ordered, so to speak.
This particular film, a short film to be precise as it clocks in at just about 35 minutes, comes from a collection called "Ghost Stories - Classic adaptations from the BBC", which also includes Lost Hearts and The Ash Tree, all three of them being James adaptations. Oh, how I'd love to get my fingers on that! For now, I enjoyed this particular film at Youtube (link at the end of the review).
The Treasure... doesn't read as one of James' ghostliest ghost stories, but starts out more like an adventure, following our two protagonists, reverend Justin Somerton and the younger lord Peter Dattering, who are looking into and following up on little clues, left behind by one abbot Thomas, an alchemist of his age and finally shunned and pushed out by his church. A bit like a smaller sized, yet infinitely more believable, version of The Da Vinci Code. It's not until the very end, without going into spoiler territory, that the supernatural sets in, and even then, we only get such tasteful little glimpses of it, that we are left wondering if it really happened at all, or if there isn't just a natural explanation.
I wouldn't count on the film having a very large budget, but it utilizes the British surroundings, with the lush nature and the old castles and churches splendidly, giving a perfect atmosphere for the film.
The acting, as well as the writing in general, is downplayed and easy going - there are no jump scares or crazy effect moments here, just good old atmosphere.
The Treasure... isn't a grand bomb of an experience, but for what it was, I really enjoyed it. That old 70ies BBC style of shooting just has a look and feel to it that I love, and the film was everything I had hoped it would be.
If this has peaked your interest, the film can be seen here: