Movie Review: Fear in the Night (1946)

Synopsis: Bank teller Vince Grayson has a nightmare about killing another man in a mirrored room and wakes up with blood on his hand. Later, while returning from a picnic with his sister and her husband, a police detective, Vince discovers both the house and room from his dream are real and a murder had been committed.

Who's in it? The movie stars DeForest Kelley, Paul Kelly, Kay Scott, Ann Doran and Robert Emmett Keane.

Review: I came across this movie a few days ago and, thinking the plot sounded interesting, ended up adding it to my library. Since it was a relatively short film, I was able to watch it this morning before heading into the office. After seeing it, I found I liked some things but wound up being disappointed overall.

I'll start with the positives from this movie. The main one is the mystery surrounding Vince (Kelley) and what happened to him at that house. It becomes immediately clear his nightmare was much more than a dream, especially since he was even able to give his brother-in-law (Kelly) directions to the house and even knew where the spare key was hidden. However, since he didn't know the homeowners or the man who was killed, it was unclear why he was in the house and why he had no memory of it.

I also found I liked his brother-in-law's reaction to the whole situation, starting out suspicious of Vince and never quite seeming like he completely believes him, even after he at least starts listening closer to his story. This did, at least in my opinion, leave the door open to the brother-in-law not really working to help Vince and, instead, trying to trick him into confessing to a crime he may or may not have committed.

Unfortunately, while the concept was a good one, the overall execution did leave a lot to be desired. For one, there is an awful lot of narration in this film. Being someone who would much rather see things explained visually when watching a movie, this did start to get a bit old after a while. Not to mention, since he was narrating the movie in the past tense, any scene that showed Vince's life in danger failed to have any real suspense. After all, it's not like he can tell the story if he's dead.

I also thought the big revelation about what happened ended up losing some of its impact because the filmmakers decided to draw things out in a way that makes it easy to tell what happened before the movie tells you. I could think of about a dozen different ways this movie could have re-written this ending to avoid letting the cat out of the bag too soon and potentially build a bit more suspense. Instead, the film's current ending makes what could have been an above-average mystery into something that is kind of forgettable.

Final Opinion: It had a good premise, but the film's execution prevented this movie from becoming anything overly special. I won't say I regret watching this film, but I also won't recommend it either.

My Grade: C-


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