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The Ice House

A chilling mystery starring a pre-heat Daniel Craig.

Rod Lott December 10th, 2012

Currently riding high on the 007 tidal wave known as Skyfall, Daniel Craig enjoys one of his earliest roles in 1997’s The Ice House, a two-part, three-hour BBC murder mystery adapted from Minette Walters’ novel. Luckily for Craig’s legion of fans, he does not play the dead body found putrid, nude and devoured from the abdomen down.


The corpse is located in the titular locale on the grounds of an opulent estate occupied by three women whom the townspeople refer to as “the butch beauties of Streech Grange.” The home is owned by Phoebe Maybury (Penny Downie, Invictus), whose husband disappeared a decade earlier — a case that remains unsolved. She lives there with two friends; all are rumored to be lesbians.

Investigating is Detective Sgt. Andy McLoughlin (Craig), who chooses to make a negative first impression with a crude joke: "I have nothing against dykes," he says. "I just wouldnt want to stick my finger in one." During his work, he not only attempts to solve this case, but tie it to the Maybury one (get it? May bury?), and falls for one of the suspects in the process.

BBC excels at adapting whodunit lit for television, whether period or contemporary, and this is no exception — cold, calculating and cunning. What makes it all the more compelling is seeing Craig radiate before his star was on the rise, and how different McLoughlin is from the role with which, for better or worse, the actor is now forever identified.

His James Bond, for instance, would never toss his cookies at the site of a chewed-up body, would he? Nor pronounce “condoms” as “khan-dahms,” much less utter the word at all. Whether this or last winter’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo remake, it’s good to venture outside the 007 franchise to see what he’s capable of outside the tux.

If there’s a criticism to be leveled at The Ice House, it’s at the baffling DVD menu. It presents the viewer with three options to play: the first episode and the second, each running roughly 90 minutes, but atop both is “Play Movie.” Viewers might think this links to a condensed version of the miniseries, but it really should be labeled “Play All”; I’m afraid audiences might consider the end of the first episode the end of it all, in which case they’ll miss not just half the rich story, but one hell of a twist. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Invictus film review 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo DVD review     

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