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Janne the Director’s Favorite Rare Movies Top 100 List #26: The Innocents (1961)

April 23, 2011

Janne the Director with a Space Mahoney t-shirt from the movie No Law 400026. The Innocents [DVD] (1961)

You know what’s really scary?

Kids being so polite that Anthony Hopkins in The Remains of the Day comes off as a Tracy Morgan. And kids saying stuff like “Don’t be frightened. It was only the wind, my dear” IS scary no matter how fake it sounds.

Deborah Kerr has such a great face for horror but I only wish she had the guts to tell the director that she don’t need to say lines like “oh, the candles have gone out” after we’ve just seen a candle go out. We knoooow! We are actually WATCHING the movie! And there is a lot of that going on; something happens and somebody repeats the action in dialog.

But it’s okay here since it somehow evokes the feeling of reading a good ghost story alone at night – a feeling I usually do not like while watching a MOVIE.

The saving grace here is the amazing cinematography, the way DP Freddie Francis uses the cinemascope, how he makes daylight much scarier than the dark and how that house/castle and it’s surroundings seems alive. Sleeping but very alive, you do not want it to wake up.

And scary it is. There are some truly great scenes that made the hair on my arms stand at attention. Very simple images where things are just slightly wrong, out of place, hidden in the dark or in plain sight under the sun… You are not safe wherever you go here!

And then there is the great sound design – sounds of bees, classic “kid singing Rosemary’s Baby-like song” and ghostlike echoes gives you the feeling of things crawling under your skin. Not re-inventing the wheel or anything but it’s just done right.

And after this, don’t forget to watch #93 on this list: The Nightcomers – the prequel with Marlon Brando.

PREVIOUS ON THE LIST: 27. Society (1989)

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