The Little Stranger (Cert 12, 110 mins, Pathe Distribution, Thriller/Romance, available from January 14 on Amazon Video/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, also available from January 14 on DVD £19.99)

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Charlotte Rampling, Will Poulter, Tipper Seifert-Cleveland.

Dr Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) is summoned to Hundreds Hall, which is owned by physically and mentally scarred soldier Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter), who exhibits the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Roderick lives in the crumbling property with his downtrodden sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson), imperious mother Angela (Charlotte Rampling) and a housemaid, Betty (Liv Hill).

The veteran is convinced that a dark force in the house means him harm.

Faraday becomes a regular visitor and a dutiful companion to spinster Caroline.

During a dinner party, a young guest is mauled by the family's normally placid Labrador and soon after, Faraday discovers scrawl on a wall purportedly left by Angela's dead daughter Susan (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland).

The Little Stranger is an ambiguous thriller of simmering desires set inside a crumbling mansion in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Adapted from Sarah Waters' gothic novel, director Lenny Abrahamson's picture conjures a mood of grim foreboding, enriched by Stephen Rennick's haunting orchestral score that seems to anticipate the whispering breeze and creaking floorboards of a country pile that has seen far better days.

It is an atmospheric and stylish portrait of dysfunctional family relationships and class warfare that builds tension gradually.

Production design traps us inside Hundreds Hall with the characters, nervously looking at the edge of each frame for clues to the horror that lurks beneath the building's dilapidated facade.

The true darkness of Abrahamson's film lurks in the silences between emotionally damaged people.

Performances from the central quartet are as tightly wound as the plot, repressing emotions behind trembling, stiff upper lips.

Rating: ***