The Night Of The Hunter - Blu-ray Review

'there's a depth here to everything that means you're shown things so quickly, you barely have time to take them in before the next scene comes to screen'

A new Blu-ray release by Arrow, it feels like this re-issue of The Night Of The Hunter has received comparatively little attention, sneaking out into UK stores as it did on 7th October.

Its release though gave me the chance to see Charles Laughton's film for the first time and whilst I can't claim that I immediately loved it, it did have the air of a film that will grow on me as the watches of it inevitably pile up.

The main reason for the lack of immediacy is that Laughton's film feels like a picture with a world full of things happening in every frame. Quicker jumps between scenes than the period normally provides, especially in the first half, give the film both pace and movement and there's a depth here to everything that means you're shown things so quickly, you barely have time to take them in before the next scene comes to screen. An early offering of Robert Mitchum's villain, figuratively tongue-lashing a dance-show audience whilst a flick-knife hops up from his pocket has so much going on you could essay about just it on its own.

If anything, on first watch, the amount of detail here, and in individual scenes, is borderline bewildering. Mitchum chomping up the stairs behind dubiously-skilled child leads Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce is a scene straight from a George Romero film, over a decade before Romero got behind a camera. A scene not long prior, with Mitchum's preacher surrounded by fire-licked torches and a fervent crowd, calls to mind the Pagan-obsessed Horror from the UK in the Seventies. If you just looked at the Horror inflections in this, which pre-date many of those very inflections adoptions by the genre, you'd be here all week.

Whilst you're doing that though, there's a discussion to have about whether this is indeed a Horror film. Clear Noir elements hint at much more of straight Thriller, feathered by dark edges. The final third gets closest to this, as the lead kids go on walkabout and the film turns into a travelogue for a time, though there's still scope for a home siege and invasion towards the end, during which the police take longer to arrive than even the most conveniently of told heist dramas.

Bubbling underneath all of this is a religious ideology as complex as any individual scene in the rest of the film as a whole and certainly with masses to say about how we use and see religion now, at the time and since. With all of that woven together, it's impossible not to reflect on The Night Of The Hunter as a classic, though truly loving it on first viewing is something of a tasking ask.

The new release of The Night Of The Hunter is available on Blu-ray in the UK now.

Update: The Night Of The Hunter release has been delayed until Monday 28th October in the UK.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a Comment