A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.
The story revolves around an uncle who doesn't have time for the children he has inherited, and therefore hires Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) to look after them. When Miss Giddens arrives at the mansion, she first meets Flora, the young girl and is 'enchanted' by the child. A few days later the boy, Miles, arrives at the house after being expelled from school. The fourth lead is made up by the housekeeper, Mrs Grose; played by Meg Jenkins. From the housekeeper, Miss Giddens eventually learns of what happened to the previous occupants of the house, and that's where the fun starts...
Martin Stephens (Miles) and Pamela Franklin (Flora) do surprisingly good jobs as the two adorable young children that are the centre of the story. Their characters are portrayed as nice young children, but at the same time there is something sinister about them, and that is where the tale draws a lot of it's suspense and mystery from. Deborah Kerr also shines as the watcher of the children. We know from the outset that her character loves children, which makes her plight believable to the audience when she does all she can to save the children from the evil she believes is haunting them. We never really know what is happening in the movie; the children's viewpoints contradict that of Miss Giddens, and as there is evidence to support what both sides say, along with evidence to support that of the contrary, the mystery is able to build itself through this and that, therefore, along with the empathy we are able to feel for Mrs Giddens due to the nature of her character; the film is able to remain interesting and suspenseful for it's running time.
The thing that this film does best is in capturing a dark and foreboding atmosphere. Through the way the story is portrayed and the beautiful cinematography, Jack Clayton is able to create scenes and sequences that are genuinely frightening and suspenseful; less is more rarely works to a great effect, but here it does. The 'ghosts' have very little screen time, but the time they do have is powerful and memorable enough to make it seem like much more. The film's creepy and menacing atmosphere never delves into violence or gore and relies solely on the story itself and the Gothic, atmospheric setting; and that is much to the film's credit.
If you liked the slightly later 60's paranoid horror films, such as Carnival of Souls or The Haunting, then this film is definitely one to check out.
- Jul 1, 2004