Horror Half-Week, Day 1: Don’t Look Now (1973)

Spooooky Halloween, everyone! TMP is, as usual, celebrating with Horror Half-Week: a four-day celebration of creepy films. This year’s Half-Week has no theme — just a collection of eerie films I’ve discovered recently. Today’s feature is a 1973 horror of parenthood, which I found on the Criterion Channel. On to the review!

Laura (Julie Christie) and John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) are facing a parent’s worst nightmare: their daughter, Christine, is dead after an accidental drowning outside of their home in the English countryside.

For a change of scenery and to escape their grief, John and Laura send their son to boarding school and go to Venice, where John plans to help restore an old church.

Don't Look Now 1973-2
(Image via Indie Wire)

At a restaurant in Venice, Laura meets Heather (Hilary Mason) and Wendy (Clelia Matania), a pair of elderly sisters. Heather says she’s psychic — and not only that, but she can see Christine’s spirit. When Christine warns (through Heather) that John is in danger and should leave Venice, will he and Laura heed the warning or stay in Venice to their doom?

Don’t Look Now was directed by Nicolas Roeg and written by Alan Scott and Chris Bryant. It is based on a story by Daphne du Maurier.

I was expecting more chills from Don’t Look Now; a couple of times, I’d seen this referred to as an all-time great horror movie, which gave me high expectations for scares. I wasn’t particularly frightened, and it wasn’t particularly gruesome.

That being said, while it didn’t make me scream in terror, Don’t Look Now is a fantastic film, and very tense. It grabbed my attention from the first ten minutes and held on very well.

Don't Look Now 1973
(Image via Ticket Source)

It’s full of great photography and eerie imagery. I loved those mysterious flashes of the red jacket and quick glances back to the day of the drowning. And the ending did shock me!

Perhaps my favorite element of the film, Don’t Look Now is as much a story about marriage, grief, and communication as it is a spooky, dead-daughter’s-ghost thriller. There’s a serious and contemplative edge to the story, which I really appreciated.

Don’t Look Now is not a fast-paced, scare-per-minute thriller, but does a great job of maintaining an eerie and unsettling mood, punctuated with unusual happenings and moments of spook. Recommended!

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6 thoughts on “Horror Half-Week, Day 1: Don’t Look Now (1973)

  1. I’ve never seen this one, but I’d always assumed it was more a psychological thriller than an outright horror, so I’m surprised to hear that it’s been called one of the great all-time horror films! I am intrigued by the ghostly aspect of it, though, and that poster should seal anyone on the deal!

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    1. I would class it as a psychological thriller with some horror elements. It’s similar to Diabolique, in that way — hints here and there, but mostly just a whole lot of tension. Definitely worth a watch, though!

      Like

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