Big Finish Review: Torchwood - Lease of Life

Big Finish Review: Torchwood - Lease of Life

Burn Gorman returns as Owen in Lease of Life, the latest Torchwood release from Big Finish. And this time, he's working for the council, investigating mould in a Cardiff house share.

Lease of Life has been written by Aaron Lamont and directed by Scott Handcock. It is available to purchase at the Big Finish site here, before going on general release on the 31st May. Here's the synopsis...

3 bed, 1 bath, shared house in a vibrant area with easy access to Cardiff city centre. Has a real lived-in feel.

Note to interested parties: There is a small spreading mould issue, and an investigation is being undertaken on site. Those worried are advised to contact the Council's Mould Expert, Dr Owen Harper.

The Review...

Anyone who has house or flat shared will probably find some unsettling memories resurfacing when listening to Lease of Life. It's the ultimate house share horror story; with the enemy not loud or irritating house mates but a mould that is literally eating its inhabitants. As someone who remembers battling mould in student house shares, it makes for an unsettling listening experience.

Of course, this being Torchwood, this isn't just about annoying housemates or a bit of damp. This is alien mould and there are moments with horrible, gruesome horror. The deaths are nasty; from being eaten alive to a horrible, heart-breaking sequence where one character's teeth start to fall out, Lease of Life has some truly dark, delicious moments that linger long after the story has ended. To go into any more detail would certainly spoil the surprises in store.

Burn Gorman does solid work as Owen, who finds himself playing an undercover council worker sent to investigate the damp problem and finding himself quickly out of his depth. Owen was never the most endearing of characters - though there are moments in this story where you feel sympathy in his desperation and awkwardness about delivering bad news. He plays off Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo's Seren well. Seren is the heart of the story, dreaming of escaping her job for travels around the world and finding herself facing a house of horrors that leaves her trapped in Cardiff in a particularly devious final twist. You are on her side every step of the way and feel the loss she feels as people start dying in the most gruesome way possible and she struggles to escape.

The casting is good all round. Angus Yellowlees plays the stereotypical loud music- playing, slobby housemate well (I'm sure we can all remember one of those), but again, you really feel for Nye as the situation worsens. Rosalie Craig is the keep-fit, confident Ellie, who remains entirely oblivious to the dangers unfolding. Having these characters trapped with Owen and Seren makes a very real-life situation into a pure house of horrors; the creeping dread as the mould spreads really ups the tension going into the second half.

Lease of Life is unpleasant horror done in a very entertaining manner. It does what Torchwood does best; putting very real characters in every day situations with a horror twist and ramping it up to 10. One thing is for certain; you'll never look at that damp patch on your wall the same way again...

The Extras...

Sixteen and a half minutes of behind the scenes interviews accompany the release and they get straight down to the joys (or horrors) of house shares with producer James Goss. Burn Gorman recounting memories of living with six girls in Manchester is very funny, while guest actress Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo (Seren) grumbles about early morning conversations with housemates.

Angus Yellowlees tries to find something likeable in the ineptness of a housemate like Nye; Goss interrogating just how similar Yellowlees was to being a Nye was particularly amusing. Rosalie Craig discusses squeaky clean process Ellie; Goss and Craig discuss how challenging it would be to live with an Ellie, while her memory of a worst flat share is sure to make anyone gag!

Finally, writer Aaron Lamont discusses his real life experiences of living in a mouldy house, how that influenced his script for Lease of Life and the joys of laying out some great Final Destination-style deaths - complete with deadly immersion heater! These snippets are entertaining and insightful as always...

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