The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is a thoroughly enjoyable children’s fantasy-adventure.
Pic has a suitable Dickensian feel, set during the imaginary reign of King James III some time in the last century in a snowbound part of North Yorkishire where wolves seem to rule the countryside. Based on Joan Aiken’s children’s novel, it has an attractively sinister quality and centers on the fight by two young girls to foil a dastardly plot hatched by the their evil governess, Slighcarp.
Tyro theatrical helmer Stuart Orme handles his chore well; they must have been doubly hard since pic was shot at the Barrandov Studios in Prague and on location around snowy Czechoslovakia in early 1988.
Emily Hudson and Aleks Darowska are excellent as the plucky youngsters, but best of all is Stephanie Beacham who outdoes herself as the wicked Slighcarp. The excellent cast is boosted by tongue-in-cheek performances from Mel Smith and Geraldine James.