House of Darkness (1948)

Article #1358 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-2-2004
Posting Date: 5-1-2004
Directed by Oswald Mitchell
Featuring Laurence Harvey, Lesley Osmond, Grace Arnold

A composer recounts the story of the haunted house that inspired his latest composition.

What we have here is your basic ghost story, and it’s one that has a number of overly familiar situations at that. Certainly, I’ve seen the storyline about an old man (with a heart condition) threatening to disinherit the younger man (who knows he has a heart condition) several times before, and the story as a whole doesn’t have a whole lot in the way of surprises. Yet somehow it works, and it may well be due to Laurence Harvey’s performance. This surprised me, because in some ways I don’t really like his performance here; he seemed too sneeringly slimy to be taken seriously. Yet, somehow, as the movie continues towards its final climactic scene, his performance ends up so in sync with the movie’s mood that the final sequence in the main storyline is extremely effective. Of course, the scene is also helped by the effective use of music, and the musical motif serves as the framing story. I recommend this one to ghost story enthusiasts who aren’t put off by Harvey’s performance in the first half of the movie.

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