Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Halloween 2018 #3: The Seventh Victim **** (1943)

Popularly referred to as a "horror noir," The Seventh Victim plays like a medieval morality fable set in 1940s Greenwich Village. A young woman Mary (Kim Hunter) leaves her private school to discover the truth about her missing sister Jacqueline (Jean Brooks). Along the way she has many confusing encounters with strange characters that are connected to an underground satanic cult. Pauline Kale referred to The French Connection as an "Urban Gothic," and The Seventh Victim totally fits into that categorization. All the horror happens off screen and we are left with characters who are on the fringes and extremely paranoid. The scene when we meet the "cult" is unsettling in its very banality, made even more worrisome that all this was going in the middle of the global cataclysm of the 20th Century. Rosemary's Baby owes much to this Val Lewton/Marc Robson masterpiece, yet it would also play well with many films of its time such as The Thin Man and The Maltese Falcon. After multiple viewings the embedded themes reveal themselves even more, a film that's sensuous and haunting, a grown up fairy tale that would work as an epic story playing over multiple seasons on Netflix that's magically condensed into 70 minutes!

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