Still of the Night 1.0 stars

Well-crafted suspense film from a technical stand-point, but not from a narrative one. The technique derives from Hitchcock, with much subjective camerawork, and with a few specific signposts to help point the way: an auction scene out of North by Northwest, a dream scene out of Spellbound, an icy blond heroine out of too many to mention. The dream scene, particularly, is well done and credible, with good ideas like the box that changes size and the irrational fear inspired by a mere child; this is somewhat tarnished in retrospect, however, by a too-liberal explication. Not much else works out well either; almost nothing, in fact, is set up well to begin with. Early progress is bogged down by frequent flashbacks to psychiatric sessions; and laboriously planted clues and admonitions never do drum up any suspense, or even any alternative suspects to accompany the jittery heroine (it seems an obvious missed opportunity, for instance, to rule out beyond a shadow of a doubt the wife of the initial murder victim). Momentary bits of tension are achieved in rudimentary dark basement, dark park, dark corridor, dark house. With Roy Scheider and Meryl Streep; written and directed by Robert Benton. 1982.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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