Mill Creek Musings: Fear in the Night (1947)

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Vince Grayson (DeForest Kelley) has had a nightmare. In the dream, he saw himself stabbing a man in a room full of mirrors, before tossing the man’s body into a closet.

When Vince wakes up, he wonders if his dream may have been reality. He has mysterious marks on his throat, and a key he doesn’t recognize in his pocket. His pal Cliff (Paul Kelly) tries to convince him it’s just a coincidence.

Several days later, however, Vince stumbles upon a house where he takes shelter from a rain storm. Inside the house is the octagonal, mirrored room from his dream. Could he have truly committed murder?

Fear in the Night was written for the screen and directed by Maxwell Shane. It is based on the story “Nightmare” by Cornell Woolrich, written under the pseudonym of William Irish.

Appearing in Mill Creek’s 50 Dark Crimes DVD set, Fear in the Night is a decent little mystery, with fine performances and some suspense.

I expected something a little more surreal when I read the description in Mill Creek’s booklet, which describes a mirrored-room nightmare with a side of murder. Still, the opening nightmare sequence is a pretty good, high-energy way to kick off the film.

(Image via Movie Stills Db)

DeForest Kelley’s character is both an amateur detective and a slightly-paranoid maybe-murderer, which is an interesting combination. He does well in the role, and also serves as the story’s narrator. His narration gives the same feeling as reading an amateur detective story on paper, making the film feel familiar, very typical of its genre.

The pace does slow after the opening, but if you love mysteries as much as I do, it’s worth tuning in to discover this lesser-known title. The premise could have made for a great film, but as it stands, Fear in the Night is still an okay watch.

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