if a word commonly used to define a duration of a film is "runtime", this film doesn´t run, it flies. it feels like you are somehow behind and must hurry up, which is quite impressive, a "void", the difference of what you see and how fast you process it (it´s even more impressive given the fact it is not an insanely fast film full of crazy action). but you catch it eventually, at the end.
Though I don't love it quite to the level of Eyes Without A Face or The Innocents, I admire it just as much. Much like those two masterpieces, this takes a genre that is so rarely pulled of correctly and brings to a level of maturity and beauty never before thought possible. I can't really think of any film, horror or not, that threats death with such a level of acceptance. DEATH IS GOOD said Val Lewton. It's also OK
Cinematography by Nicholas Musaraca. Reasons to be cheerful: the ambiance and the shadows; the studio more as an imaginary reconstruction than a copy of reality; the dramaturgical inconsistency that gives an incurable freedom; the protagonist shower scene with the appearance of Mrs. Redy as a shadow in the shower curtain, many years before "Psycho" and equally disturbing; the final scene, strangely unexpected
The speed is unusual and disorienting. Every scene in the first half proceeds comprehensibly from the next, but every event feels sudden, almost like a non-sequitur, and it creates a sense of dreamlike dislocation. Which for me lessens as what's going on becomes clearer, though the last shot brings it back. Need to see again.
A suicidal plum wavers in the sutures of sexual courage and the gasps of morality, her "satanic" alignment no more than allegorical shading for the sapphism & self-destruction against which convene a patriarchal triptych: lawyer, poet, psychiatrist: in their attempt to rescue/Emily Post/apron her, she smokes, she broods, she implicitly desires women--she enacts a paradigm of cultural anxiety. She must die.
Such an atmosphere! An existential film that plays just as much as a noir as it does a horror movie. Definitely ahead of its time and one that, I feel certain, will only rise in estimation with repeat viewings. I'll rate it 4/5 for now, but am tempted to (and probably will in the future) give it a perfect 5/5. Any chance you get to watch a Lewton film, especially with Nicholas Musuraca as DP, you take it!
If The Third Man and Rosemary's Baby time travelled back to the early 40s and did it with the shower scene from Psycho watching, this is what you'd end up with. Way ahead of its time and further proof that Val Lewton didn't get the credit he deserved...