Doctor Who: The Haunting of Villa Diodati review – Chills and Thrills!

Posted on 17 February 2020
By Dana Andersen
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What do you get if you cross Mary Shelley, a threat we’ve all been waiting for, and The Haunting of Hill House? This weeks episode of Doctor Who of course!

As The Doctor, and fam, drop into The Haunting of Villa Diodati, we’re once again given an episode thats genuinely scary. For a children’s show on the BBC at least.

It’s the night Frankenstein was supposed to be written, but with a man missing, The Doctor needs to find out whats going on to prevent history from changing.

Once again the companions split off, the format now expected, wandering around the house seeing ghosts. Finally we have a show that knows how to create dark scenes, while allowing the audience to be able to actually see whats going on!

Despite the darkness, and horror, of this episode, the humorous moments are some of the best in the season. The two genres play off each other well, keeping the mood up, while still having frightening going ons such as a reanimated skeleton hand.

Breaking the horror cliche of everyone being in the same house but unable to hear each other is refreshing, as the Doctor and companions communicate by shouting through the fireplaces.

With spectres showing up, Percy Bysshe Shelley missing, and Graham trying his best to make friends with ghosts, it seems we can tell what to expect from this episode.

Each group gets stuck going around different parts of the house, Polidori begins sleepwalking through walls, and The Doctor’s brain has to move fast to realise the house is like a perception filter.

Finally Jack’s warning all those episodes ago pay off as the long Cyberman appears! With a torn up suit, showing the flesh still underneath, its a brilliant design of the classic villain.

Are we ever going to see a companion that knows to just stay put? Lets hope not, because its great seeing Yaz take charge for a bit! She’s a police officer for a reason, as we saw in the prior episode, and its about time we saw her have some natural authority.

This cyberman is different to others we’ve seen, it can feel emotion such as irritation for one, and its a relief to not just have another standard cyberman stomping about deleting everyone. The lack of emotion inhibitor means we don’t just have a cyberman, we have a pissed off cyberman.

Bysshe Shelley is found in the basement, revealed to be The Guardian of the ‘Cyberium’, a database inside him containing all the cybermens knowledge and history.

Mary Shelley takes a moment to shine, calling the Cyberman out on having a soul because he spared her son. As she speaks of love, and family, it seems she’s really getting through to the cyberman, and its beautiful to see this historical woman relate with a cyberman.

Until he reveals himself to not be at all touched by her words.

The Doctor uses her recently remembered Time Lord powers to push Bysshe Shelley’s mind to his death, releasing the Cyberium. The shimmering silver mass that it becomes without a host is impressive, both beautiful, and clearly something to worry about.

As the risks increase, The Doctor has to take charge once again. She’s the leader, the person at the top of the mountain having to make all the hardest choices, like saving the past by putting the future at risk.

So everyone is saved, and part two of the plan must begin. Cleaning up after part one.

Starting out with such a spooky atmosphere, it seemed clear we were heading for a typical ‘things happen, its this monster, the Doctor solves it’, right up until the lone cyberman is revealed.

The twist we were all waiting for, thanks to Jack, its gotten us all ready for the final two episodes of this season.

We’ve had some highs and lows this season, but this episode is definitely a high. Atmospheric, interesting, funny and frighting are the components of so many fantastic episodes of Doctor Who, and this is a great episode to be added to that list while still continuing the plot of the season, and furthering The Doctor’s story.

Heres to hoping theres no drop in quality next week!