A Place of One’s Own (1945) is a mysterious British drama about a couple, the Smedhursts (James Mason and Barbara Mullen), who move into an old, dilapidated house that’s supposedly haunted. It’s been vacant for 40 years thanks to the suspicion of eerie happenings.
When a young girl named Annette (Margaret Lockwood) comes to live with them to keep the elderly Mrs. Tutthorn company, trouble arises. The girl becomes possessed by the spirit of a woman who once lived in the house and was also murdered there.
Mason is completely unrecognizable, playing an elderly man when he was really at the ripe ol’ age of 36, but this actually benefits his performance. Having not realized that he was even in this film until looking it up on IMDb afterward, there is no trace of Mason himself in this performance or character, which works in his favor as his own personality doesn’t distract from the role.
Barbara Mullen, also aged by movie magic nearly beyond the point of recognition, gives a decent performance as well, though not as strong as Mason, Lockwood or the supporting cast.
Though based on a novel, the film comes off much like a play, despite the decent variety of camera angles and shots.
Music is seldom played, and the key scenes that would usually lead the viewer to prematurely predicting the conclusion of the film are not emphasized in such typical ways. Violins don’t swell in the most tense scenes as they usually would, shrieking “Look at me! I’m a scary, spooky film!”
Those bells and whistles are not needed to build tension in this film, and the lack of stereotypical thriller elements leaves the viewer guessing throughout.
The film as a whole is a bit slow-moving and should not be expected to be a jump-inducing, heart-palpitating thriller. Viewers who begin the film with expectations of a textbook horror will be sorely disappointed.
However, the film is a quite good psychological thriller with a whole lot of romance thrown in for good measure. It’s an interesting mix of twist-y, spooky and sweet with Annette slowly falling for the friendly Dr. Selbie (Dennis Price) in a love story that eerily mirrors the story of the murdered girl. The score: 4/5