19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A unique masterpiece,
This review is from: The Night of the Hunter [DVD]  (DVD)
A fine example of the "one man's meat is another man's poison" cliche, this film is a fantastic masterpiece to those, like me, who succumb to its wonderful magic, and an incomprehensibly overrated disappointment to those who don't.
It is almost impossible to categorise: is it gothic horror, thriller or dark (and occasionally sentimental) fairytale? Perhaps a combination of all three, and it is indeed in moments of transition that some of the haunting nature of this movie is revealed. As Mitchum's terrifying pursuit of the childrens segues into their river escape, the tone switches from nailbiting terror to gorgeous "magic reality" in the wake of his roar of disappointment, ready for the good fairy (Lilian Gish) to turn up downriver. Just to name my own favourite moment; there are plenty of others (the wife at the bottom of the river being the most oft-quoted). And what stunning, overwrought yet just right, performances there are from Mitchum (possibly his best ever), Winters and others.
Anyone coming to this film expecting a simple, unified, realistic narrative will indeed be disappointed, but those ready to give themselves to a world of symbol and shadow, light and darkness (what fantastic cinematography!), and pure, fairytale good and evil need seek no further. This is not an "old" film: it is timeless, and eternally beautiful. Don't be afraid; jump in and submerge yourself. But don't drown...