One Step Beyond: The Secret - Ghost Story or Mental Illness
What Happened to Sylvia Ackroyd?
Actor and director, John Newland, opens this eerie episode of One Step Beyond with a question about the disturbing and perhaps paranormal circumstances under which British housewife, Sylvia Ackroyd disappeared.
The audience is shown a detailed account of the days leading up to her mysterious disappearance, and we are charged with the task of pondering the question, “Are ghosts real, or was Sylvia Ackroyd another sad victim of mental deterioration?
Did she actually crossover into the “twilight zone,” and if so… what the heck is the twilight zone, and how do we get there? Is the twilight zone a tangible place in the supernatural realm? Or the twilight zone simply the final destination of mental illness?
Whatever the answer may be, it’s time now to kick back, relax and enjoy a good ghost story - you can read all about the details of this weird clip, and then actually watch below as the supernatural action unfolds in the complete episode of this famous sci-fi anthology series.
The Main Cast of Three
The Ackroyds, Sylvia and Harrison, are a perfectly unhappy, wealthy British couple.
It appears that the root of their unhappiness stems from a childless union, an uncaring husband, and perpetually bored and unloved wife.
They share their sprawling home with a housekeeper, Essie, who at times channels the spirit of the infamous Mrs. Danvers from the Alfred Hitchcock psychological thriller, Rebecca (1940).
Although Essie is not nearly as mentally affected as Mrs. Danvers, it is clear that she adores Harrison, and she jumps at every occasion to spy on Sylvia and report back to him - no matter how uninterested he appears to be.
Enter Paranormal Activity
One day, after an emotionally stressful day of having to deal with the fact that her husband seems to care more about finances than her birthday, Sylvia goes rummaging through an old chest of drawers.
She retrieves a Ouja board and she channels the spirit of Jeremy, who is apparently a long time companion to her. However, he seems only to visit her during times when she is in need, and he seems to make a promise to her that they will be together soon.
One day, Essie overhears a conversation between Sylvia and a male suitor named Jeremy, when Essie reports back to Harrison, he appears at first not to care, but later when he discusses the issue with Sylvia he becomes increasingly angry.
Through a private investigator, Harrison learns that Sylvia has taken to spending lots of time out and about. He also learns that Sylvia spends a lot of time laughing and talking to . . . herself.
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Flirting with Insanity or Flirting with The Supernatural?
Sylvia falls deeper and deeper into her delusions (or into the world of the supernatural), but she eventually breaks down and tells Harrison about Jeremy, after Harrison bugs their drawing room and listens to a recorded session between Sylvia and Jeremy.
Sylvia’s voice is the only audible voice on the tape, but she carries on a long and intricate conversation with a completely silent conversant.
Through Sylvia’s admission, we learn that Jeremy was a living person long ago. We know this because Sylvia has researched the man, she knows he has passed away, but he is always there to comfort her when things go wrong in her life so she does not mind his supernatural presence.
Eventually, Harrison believes that his wife has gone mad - a detail about which he is rather neutral.
Almost immediately, he contacts the authorities and promptly arranges to have his wife taken away to be tucked into an insane asylum (this was apparently incredibly easy to do back then).
Harrison is only slightly shaken, at best, and Essie seems to be satisfied, but at least she hopes that her mistress does not put up much of a struggle whilst being fitted into her white jacket. . .
Sylvia clues the audience in to Harrison’s probable true objective, and she pleads with an invisible Jeremy to come to her aid once more before the looney wagon arrives.
As the doctor arrives to collect Sylvia and take her to her new home, a downplayed but onscreen supernatural event occurs, and the mystery begins. . .