When the Lights Went Out

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When the Lights Went Out
WTLWO Tasha Conner poster.jpg
Official poster featuring star Tasha Connor
Directed byPat Holden
Produced by
  • Bil Bungay
  • Deepak Nayar
Written byPat Holden
Distributed byBil Bungay
Release date
  • 31 January 2012 (2012-01-31) (International Film Festival Rotterdam)
  • 13 September 2012 (2012-09-13) (United Kingdom)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

When the Lights Went Out is a 2012 British supernatural horror film directed by Pat Holden and starring Kate Ashfield, Tasha Connor, Steven Waddington, Craig Parkinson, Martin Compston, and Jo Hartley. It was released in the UK on 13 September 2012.[1] The film premiered at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.[2]


In 1974, Jenny and Len move into a new home in Yorkshire where their 13-year-old daughter Sally is haunted by the ghost of a young girl, and the demonic ghost of a monk. Sally's history teacher based on the description of the spirit given by Sally found out that the family was haunted by the spirit of a young girl who was murdered in the forest. The teacher informed Len about it and gave him a book that elaborated on this incident. Sally's parents seek out the assistance of a paranormal specialist and a local priest. The paranormal specialist was able to make contact with the spirit in the house, but during the session, the group was attacked by the spirit. The specialist explained the occurrence, stating that there were 2 spirits in the house, an evil spirit who intends harm on the family and a spirit of a young girl about the same age as Sally who was murdered in the woods. The specialist could not remove the spirits from their house.

Len and his friend, convince the local priest to perform an exorcism on their house, he refused to do it in the beginning, citing lack of permission from the church and that he will be removed from his priesthood for going against the order of the church. Len and his friend then blackmail the priest into performing the exorcism by showing him photos of the priest engaging in illicit affair with his housekeeper. Len threatened the priest that they will release the photos into public if he refused to help the family. The release of photos would have led to the priest's dismissal. The priest then agrees to do the exorcism and takes them to the church to prepare the articles he needed to do the exorcism. The priest told them that the monk while he was alive, preyed on the young uneducated girls in the neighbourhood and cut off their tongue so that they could not expose him. He killed the young girl as she was educated and could have exposed his deeds by writing about it. After the incident the monk was secretly tried and hanged and buried in secrecy in order to save the honour of the church. After hearing the story from the priest, the three of them proceed to his house, where they start chanting biblical quotes. The spirit, protests their chantings by throwing household items on the trio. After some efforts the priest manages to drive the spirit out of their house.

The family returned to their normal life, but one night the spirit returns again and attacks Sally and tries to hang her in a noose made of electrical cables in the ceiling. Sally manages to kick the window pane which falls on his father Len, who was smoking just outside the house. Both Len and Jenny try to save Sally from getting asphyxiated from the noose but the evil spirit manages to knock them out by throwing the parents on the walls. Sally then throws the locket of the young girl (spirit) in the electric heater and it catches fire. The young girls spirit then appears and confronts the evil spirit. The evil spirit is then driven off her house by the young girl's spirit. The family continued to live in the same house and Sally never went into her bedroom again after the incident.



According to the filmmakers, the story is "loosely" based on a claimed poltergeist haunting known as "The Black Monk of Pontefract", said to have occurred in the home of Joe and Jean Pritchard at 30 East Drive, Pontefract, West Yorkshire.[2][3] According to Jean Pritchard's sister-in-law Renee Holden, alleged supernatural disturbances by a poltergeist given the nickname "Fred" included "throwing things around, freezing rooms down, creating water puddles and making noises". The Pritchards' daughter, Diane, was supposedly dragged upstairs by her neck.[4] The incident was locally popular but "largely unknown elsewhere" until Colin Wilson wrote a book about it in 1981 that gained notoriety among paranormal aficionados. Director Pat Holden stated that he "embellished the story to make it fit it into a horror movie template".[5][6]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 22% based on 9 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 4.5/10.[7]


  1. ^ "Nostalgia: Spooky tale from Yorkshire's heart". Yorkshire Evening Post. Leeds. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016 – via InfoTrac. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  2. ^ a b "When the Lights Went Out". International Film Festival Rotterdam. 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  3. ^ Brown, Jonathan (12 September 2012). "It's fright night at Pontefract Poltergeist house". Yorkshire Evening Post. Leeds. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  4. ^ Laws, Roz (16 September 2012). "Horror film's a real scream". Sunday Mercury. Birmingham. p. 12. Retrieved 28 October 2016 – via InfoTrac. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  5. ^ Applebaum, Steven (30 August 2012). "A ghost in the house". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  6. ^ Youngs, Ian (11 September 2012). "When the Lights Went Out revives 1970s ghost story". BBC News. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  7. ^ "When the Lights Went Out (2012) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 October 2017.

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