Swallows and Amazons (PG)

four stars

Dir: Philippa Lowthorpe

With: Kelly Macdonald, Rafe Spall

Runtime: 97 minutes

THIS adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s coming of age mystery is truly scrumptious. Set in the Lake District in the 1930s, the story of a gaggle of children learning to fend for themselves is as far away from modern life as Mars from Earth. One half expects Health and Safety to barge in, saying: “Step away from the matches, sonny Jim.” But that’s part of its charm, as is a performance from Kelly Macdonald as Mrs Walker, mother of the brood, and the screenplay by Andrea Gibb (Dear Frankie). The international intrigue that swirls around the children as war clouds gather is an added bonus, with Rafe Spall and Andrew Scott great value as yet more mysterious adults. The pace is slow initially, but stick with it.

Lights Out (15)

two stars

Dir: David F Sandberg

With: Teresa Palmer, Mario Bello

Runtime: 81 minutes

EPIC daftness here from director David F Sandberg, with a picture that started life as a short horror film. At just 81 minutes, this subsequent feature is not much longer. Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) had to flee the family home after terrifying goings-on whenever the lights went out. When she suspects her little brother is experiencing similar trauma she knows the past must be confronted. Who is the person her mother keeps talking to? Why do they only appear in the dark? Is this one big advert for torches? Plenty of jumps to enjoy if that is your thing.