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Watchable but rather uninspired psychological thriller
This 1973 UK thriller sees Robert Hardy (who had previously starred in Hammer's "Demons of the Mind") play Edward Foster, the former Head of an Asylum who gets called to a patient's - Andrew Marr's - death bed, and ends up inheriting his house where a significant amount of money is hidden. This prompts certain interested parties to become part of Foster's life, namely a scheming brother and sister and the estate's solicitor; however, the house's murderous past comes back to haunt them all....
Despite some clichéd elements to the script (cynical townsfolk; noises reverberating around the house etc.) this is a film which clearly had a lot of potential on paper but it really doesn't get out of first gear until the last half hour when the central themes of the plot become clearer. The interweaving of past and present with Hardy interchanging between both Foster (present) and Marr (from the past) in certain sequences is hardly seamless and is patchily handled.
On reflection, the supporting cast don't really get that much to do considering that the 3 of them (played by Christopher Lee, Joan Collins and Herbert Lom) are all hell-bent on finding the money. Lee in particular seems to be more of peripheral figure than you would have expected.
Perhaps another thing to undermine it's psychologically thrilling aspirations is the script-writers' under-appreciation and under-usage of the story's more substantial "horror" or "thriller" elements occurring at night. It clearly dilutes the central thrills of the film.
Hardy does a decent job of portraying the gradual decline in sanity of his characterisation; and due to its little-known status this film might well be worth a look at, but to my mind, it could have been handled and executed a lot better.
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