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(Review originally written at 4 June 2010)

This is really one great movie, that is being original with its approach and execution.

I would say that this is what a children's thriller would look like. The movie is being told from the perspective of the movie its two main child-characters. It has a nightmare like feeling and atmosphere and some real evil characters. Basically the movie is being made like any other thriller, with dramatic elements in it, from the same time period with as a difference that it takes another approach and tells things from a different perspective. So don't mistake this for a children's movie though. It's like "To Kill a Mockingbird", that is also a heavy drama, with thriller elements in it but gets mostly told from the perspective of the two young children.

It's directing approach almost makes this movie seem like a surreal one at times. Like it's a nightmarish fairy tale. It's like experiencing fear from a young child's mind and perspective, who also often tend to exaggerate things and let evil things look more even more evil and dark things even darker. It's not just a thriller but also a very visually orientated movie. I think this is because director Charles Laughton mostly drew his inspiration from silent movies. I can really see some D.W. Griffith like influences in this movie, which perhaps is also a reason why he cast Lillian Gish in this movie, who worked a lot with D.W. Griffith back in the silent era. He obviously must had admired D.W. Griffith work and used some of his stylish setups and techniques for his movie. It makes this a very moody movie with some great visual style.

The movie is filled with some allegories and you can interpret things different ways in it. I think it's one of those movies in which you'll discover new things, every time you see it. In essence it's a story about good versus evil, in which the evil gets masterfully personified by Robert Mitchum, as a preacher on a killer mission in life.

Let me tell you that Robert Mitchum in this movie is one of the best and most evil characters to ever hit the silver screen. He is simply sublime in his role as the money crazy religious fanatic, who kills and does basically everything to get his money, even by hunting down these two little children. His role is right up there with his "Cape Fear" one, in which he also played an evil, scary, psychotic, unpredictable killer.

The movie does have some downsides. I don't always like were the movie is going with its story, especially toward the end, that could had been written differently I think, or perhaps less rushed, with a more effective build-up to it. The movie is only about 90 minutes short, so they easily could had made it about 30 minutes longer. But well, it obviously didn't ruined a lot of the movie for me. I still really loved watching it and appreciated its different and more daring style and approach of things.

Really a great movie that I would love to see watch more often.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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