When Amanda agreed to babysit for a friend, little did she realise it would begin an endless night of terror. For her neighbour's insane ex-husband ha...
3 reviews from the community
Review of "Fright (DVD)"
A review of the Optimum DVD, £7 on amazon at time of writing.Fright is a British horror film which isn’t well known, but is genuinely scary. It was produced by British Lion, best known now for being the company which butchered The Wicker Man.
Director: Peter Collinson
Stars: Susan George, Ian Bannen, Honor Blackman
More information available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067119/
IMDB user rating: 5.4 (crazily low)
From the very start the film plays up the tension. The camera stalks Amanda as she walks through the night to Helen’s house. We can tell that Helen’s scared of something, although at first we put it down to her being a very overprotective mother. Jim and Amanda’s excruciating attempt at small talk just ratchets up the feeling that this film is going to be a pretty uncomfortable ride. And we’re not even five minutes in yet!I really can’t remember the last time I saw a film as suspenseful as Fright. And it’s suspenseful in a nasty way, too. No one in the film deserves the night of terror they’re about to have inflicted on them, and neither does the audience. This at times becomes a real test of endurance (to be fair, I was watching it alone late at night with all the lights off. If I’d been watching it in company during the day, perhaps I’d have reacted differently.) The camera prowls around the house as Amanda nervously settles in, disturbed by dripping taps and other perfectly innocent noises. The film builds up tension beautifully, and refuses to give us a release for ages. We know something bad is going to happen, and we just want it to happen so we can scream and get it out of the way.
Inevitably Amanda’s boyfriend turns up looking for nookie (sample dialogue: “I reckon you’ve got the most beautiful pair of bristols!”). After she kicks him out for getting too fresh, the trouble really begins. The film cruelly offers plenty of ways out for Amanda, but they’re all blocked at the last second – the phone wire is cut just as she gets through to Helen at the restaurant. Speeding back, Jim, and Helen’s car somehow gets stuck in mud. And the police prove less than helpful. By the time the outside world realises what’s going on, Amanda is in big trouble.It’s an incredibly claustrophobic film, and the old dark house in which it’s set is a perfect location – normal if a bit twee at first, it becomes a really oppressive, inescapable nightmare. (The house in Black Christmas has a similar vibe, if that helps.) You have to wonder why someone as nervous as Helen fills her home with so many creepy portraits and stuffed fox heads, but there’s no accounting for taste.
We get at least as nervous as Amanda, and the director never wastes a chance to show people reflected in things – mirrors, windows, even clock pendulums. The editing is tight and the director has a nice way of shooting faces from odd angles (to be fair, almost everyone in the early 70s British horror scene did the same thing. Here it works particularly well, though).The cast is amazingly good for this kind of thing. Susan George gives what is probably her best performance as Amanda. She doesn’t have a lot to do beyond conveying fear and occasionally hysteria, but we mostly like her anyway. She’s certainly put through the wringer, one scene in particular being uncomfortably intense.
The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces, and all are excellent. Honor Blackman is superb as Helen, moving from annoying, twitchy old misery-guts to imperilled victim as we grow to understand the character. George Cole is good as Jim, her exasperated current partner. His future Minder co-star Dennis Waterman is very likeable as Amanda’s randy, good humoured boyfriend (far better in this than in the straight-laced hero role he played for Hammer at about the same time, in Scars of Dracula). A very, very young Trigger from Only Fools and Horses is also in it.But the finest performance, and the main reason for the film’s success, is Ian Bannen as the deranged Brian. Bannen was a great actor who never quite got the recognition he deserved. He is brilliant, one second calm and rational, the next blubbering like a scared child, the next bellowing with rage and threatening to kill Amanda and the kid. It’s one of the best psycho performances I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen plenty. He’s terrifying, but still pitiable. We want everyone to make it out of that house safely, but we can’t hate Brian, no matter what he does. He’s just very unwell.
There are only a few mis-steps. The music is lousy, syrupy and not at all tense. The bumbling policemen really aren’t a good idea, as they briefly shatter the mood the film has so painstakingly built up. And the brief bit of dancing we see at the restaurant places the film securely in the 1970s.But none of these things can derail what is ultimately a very scary, rather depressing and totally effective British horror flick. I don’t understand why this doesn’t have a higher reputation. It is really very good indeed.
The DVD, on the other hand, isn’t. The picture quality is fine, but there are no extras whatsoever. And you have to watch the annoying Studio Canal ident twice.
Product Information : Fright (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionWhen Amanda agreed to babysit for a friend, little did she realise it would begin an endless night of terror. For her neighbour's insane ex-husband has managed to escape from a mental asylum. And tonight is the night he has chosen to come home.....
Listed on Ciao since: 07/11/2009