Nightmare (UK 1963)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/11/20
Cast: David Knight, Moira Redmond, Jennie Linden, Brenda Bruce

A teenage girl named Janet (Jennie Linden) witnessed her mother murdering her father in a fit of madness when she was young, and she still suffers from traumatic nightmares. Concerned about her well-being and not wanting to disrupt the other students, her school sends her home for medical treatment. Janet has an unhealthy attraction towards her legal guardian Henry (David Knight), and a woman named Grace (Moira Redmond) has been assigned to look after Janet and be her companion. Janet fears that she might be going insane just like her mother, and a series of increasingly frightening and surreal experiences drive her to the point of suicide. Grace luckily saves her in time, but she eventually gets carted off to an asylum for psychiatric care. With Janet out of the way, the conspirators take center stage and play out their own mad and wicked drama.

It's a tense psychological thriller filmed in stark black and white, which creates a dark and dreamlike atmosphere. Like most thrillers, it falls apart under scrutiny, but that doesn't diminish the fun. The acting is good and the characters are well-written, although Janet isn't particularly interesting. She's only a pawn in a larger game and disappears early in the film. Her school teacher (Brenda Bruce) is marvelous and gives a strong performance, despite her relatively small role. The main attraction here is Moira Redmond, who is a smart and sexy femme fatale that eventually goes mad in the same way as Janet. She's delightful to watch, and it's hard to decide whether to love her or hate her. David Knight is smarmy and instantly dislikable, so you know right away that he's up to no good. It's not one of Hammer's top-tier productions, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.