For Reel

The Uninvited (1944)
November 4, 2014, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lewis Allen
4 Stars
The UninvitedGail Russell first came to stardom with The Uninvited, a rare ghost film of the period in which the supernatural is taken seriously. She was said to be so uncomfortable on screen that she began drinking to calm her nerves during the production (a vice which would lead to her tragic early death). It might be this very tension that contributes to the greatness of the performance–it’s a dynamic one, proving that she was far more than just a pretty face. Her character must navigate the fallout of her mother’s gruesome death, and Russell demonstrates her relationship to the past by simultaneously being terrified and eerily calmed by the spirits that haunt her. She’s aided admirably by Ray Milland, who similarly had a tense demeanor about him in his best roles despite his calm, cool exterior. Perhaps no contribution is greater to The Uninvited than the Oscar-nominated cinematography by Charles B. Lang, however, who gives as much attention to sunlight as he does the absence of it (for a horror film of the period, it’s surprising that the location is so idyllic). The scene in which Milland investigates a mysterious weeping coming from downstairs is absolutely chilling–a testament to Lang’s use of light and framing, conveying Milland’s sheer vulnerability in a house that now seems far from hospitable.

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