A man dreams he committed murder. But was it a dream?
Today I will be reviewing an interesting psychological tale of manipulation and murder, Fear In The Night. Bank teller Vince Grayson wakes up from a terribly vivid nightmare about a room full of mirrors, a savage murder and a mysterious woman. He immediately notices that he has marks on his neck, blood and scratches. He also notices a button and an oddly shaped key in his pocket, both items from his dream. Did something happen and he doesn’t remember? Is he going insane? Was it drugs?
Driven to solve the problem he enlists his brother-in-law, police officer Cliff Herlihy, to help him figure out what happened. Cliff is skeptical, chalking it up to food poisoning or alcohol. He assures Grayson that he can’t be arrested and convicted for dreaming about a murder.
These intense nightmares continue to occur, sometimes while Grayson is awake. During a ride from a picnic he starts to remember a road and house that he’s never been to before. He seems to know everything about the house, despite never having been there. The others think he’s pulling their legs, but begin to realize there’s something incredibly strange going on.
How did he know about that key?
This looks familiar…
Fear In The Night is a low budget film noir with an emphasis on psychological manipulation and the fragile nature of reality. The feel of the film is reminiscent of films such as 1965’s Mirage and Hitchcock’s classic, Vertigo.
Production values are surprisingly good for a B film and the cast is pretty good. An interesting note is that this is the first starring role of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy and a future veteran of many westerns. He is does very well as the psychologically fragile Grayson.
Grayson about to lose it again.
Optical effects are extensively used throughout the film to show Grayson’s hallucinations. I was surprised at their quality and the effectiveness in emphasizing Grayson’s break from reality. The musical score varies from standard orchestra stings, to “creepy” electronic effects during the hallucinations.
Interesting use of optical effects, literally in this case.
Verdict 3.5 Gavels out of 5
Interesting little psychological film noir. Cast and crew are effective. Optical effects are especially well done considering the era and low budget. If you like Hitchcock’s work and the Twilight Zone, you will like this one.