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Film Title

Scream of Fear

Director

Seth Holt

Starring

  • Susan Strasberg as Penny Appleby
  • Ann Todd as Jane Appleby
  • Ronald Lewis as Robert
  • Christopher Lee as Dr. Pierre Gerrard

An atmospheric triumph of mounting tension and shocking reveals, Scream of Fear supplies The basic idea of the plot has been done many times before, but Scream of Fear excellently plays with this formula by twisting into something unexpected and shocking. A strong thriller from Hammer indeed. If you want thrills, Scream of Fear is a guarantee to supply that need.

Penny Appleby is a pretty young woman who has been paralyzed for over ten years following an accident on a horse. She has largely lived in Switzerland, but returns to see her father( who she hasn’t seen for a long time) after a companion of hers drowns leaving her devastated. Her father now lives on the French Riviera and has married again, to a woman named Jane. Penny hasn’t met his new bride yet, but thinks Jane is fine upon arrival. The family chauffeur Robert also does his best to make her at home, while she recovers from the shocking loss of her friend. Yet Penny is also puzzled that her father has seemingly gone away from business , as she expected to reconnect with him again after so long. On her first night in the house, Penny encounters something shocking. Seeing a light on in the summer house, she ventures out to check and discovers what looks like her father’s corpse. Terrified, she exits quickly and explains her findings to Jane and Robert . Yet when Jane inspects the summer house, there is no sign of a body. She puts it down to stress and an overactive imagination, calling upon the services of the mysterious Dr Pierre Gerrard to calm the panicked Penny down. Penny is left confused yet convinced that something bad has happened to her father. After seeing his body again, before it promptly vanishes once more, Penny becomes more certain that there is a nefarious plot being undertaken to drive her mad. Penny enlists Robert to help her, mainly because he appears to be the only person who doesn’t think she’s losing her mind. But as Penny investigates, we soon find that everything is a lot different and maybe even more sinister than initially envisioned, leading to a whole host of surprises.

Seth Holt knows the exact ways to suggest something chilling and slowly reveal enough in teasing and mounting suspense. A real feeling and essence of mystery is ever-present in Scream of Fear, right from the opening to the end. As aforementioned, the basic story of someone believing others are attempting to drive the mad has been done many times, but Scream of Fear still keeps it all very riveting and startling by inserting a few tricks of its own. There really is a genuine unpredictability to Scream of Fear, so much so that even when you think you’ve got a handle on things, it completely fools you.  We are left to speculate and guess what capricious machination will befall Penny, as the plot thickens considerably. A big asset in Scream of Fear is the black and white cinematography, which is suitably ghoulish and mysterious right from the opening frames, letting you know that something deeply mysterious is at work. An effective usage of close-ups and nice angles allows the suspense to rise, with a swimming pool sequence where a nasty surprise lies at the bottom is rightfully tense and well lensed as a standout scene. Sound is a key thing in Scream of Fear, and the way its employed is pretty darn impressive. Eerie silence and seeming calm of the surroundings( specifically the outside and glimpses of cliffs and the sea on the French Riviera) that prove to be anything but are captured with. The music knows exactly when to appear and not be too intrusive, letting the mystery and thrills take the biggest stage.

The beautiful Susan Strasberg is just the right person to play the emotionally besieged Penny. She possesses a resilience and alternating vulnerability that is perfect for the part. Penny may be put in danger throughout the film, but she’s intelligent and not just a mere damsel who’s depending on everyone else to help. If anything, she refuses to let her paralysis slow her down and has adjusted to it with a deep independence. Strasberg plays Penny with a self-reliance and steadfast determination to uncover what sinister acts are being committed. Ann Todd successfully stars as the stepmother ,who appears to be a reasonable person but also remarkably shifty in the long run of things. Ronald Lewis is on hand to play the square-jawed, handsome and apparently loyal chauffeur who aids Penny in her search for the truth. Christopher Lee, although not seen as much as I’d liked, is still quite good as the mysterious doctor who is hanging around whenever strange things happen.

Unpredictable and slowly adept at building tension, as well as pulling you in, Scream of Fear is a successfully creepy and unexpectedly smart thriller that really does an impressive number on you. its nothing is as it seems angles make it a fine thriller and one that deserves more attention.

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