Fright (1971)

FRIGHT (1971)
Article #1519 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-12-2005
Posting Date: 10-9-2005
Directed by Peter Collinson
Featuring Honor Blackman, Susan George, Ian Bannen

A babysitter is terrorized by the insane ex-husband of the mother of the child she is caring for.

The first half of this movie plays out like an early slasher flick. The main difference between this movie and those of that genre is that the killer lurking outside of the house isn’t just a faceless killing machine, but an actual character, and so the second half of the movie plays out with a little more complexity than your average slasher flick. However, that doesn’t automatically make the movie great, or even good, and at heart I don’t think the movie really works. The problem is that, despite its attempts at character development, it ultimately fails to develop them sufficiently for me to care about them. In particular, I never believe there is a real character behind the psychotic ex-husband; sure, he’s all over the emotional map, but I don’t feel there’s a real person inhabiting the loony facade, and for the twist ending to really work, we need to believe there was a real character there. Sure, there are a few scares and a little tension here; with a psycho threatening a child with a large shard of glass, there’s bound to be. But it misfires too often, and whenever the psycho gets really agitated, his angry rants remind me of an enraged Yosemite Sam or Tasmanian Devil, and if you’re trying to be scary, these are characters you shouldn’t be channeling. The best moments are near the beginning, where the movie effectively uses sound to build attention.

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