Best known for starring in Atonement and Suffragette, the actor has now turned to writing and directing with a spine-chilling film. What possessed her?

I meet Romola Garai in a velvet-sofaed establishment in central London, which feels radically incongruous. Not because one wouldn’t expect to find an actor of nearly 20 years on such a sofa, but because an hour before, I’d been forcing myself to watch the gory centrepiece moment of her new horror film, Amulet, which marks a dramatic departure into writing and directing.

Amulet lulls you into a fragile sense of security with its arthousey tension, beautiful, subtle performances and lingering shots of decaying wallpaper. When it explodes into body horror – toilets birthing hideous, hairless newborn creatures, a prelude to the worse gestations to come – well, you’d be tempted to cover your eyes if it wasn’t all so horribly compelling.

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