Archive for October 11th, 2010

(Charles Laughton, 1955)

(essay by Troy)

I’ll be back…when it’s dark

Such a line speaks to the deep rooted and irrational fears that all children have of the night, a time when they feel alone, unprotected, and at their most vulnerable.  It’s the time when the mythical boogeyman goes about terrorizing the young.  Building from this archetype is Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter, creating an all-too-real boogeyman in the form of Robert Mitchum’s monstrous wolf in sheep’s clothing, Reverend Harry Powell.  As elemental a horror story as one can come up with, it’s core is simplicity, the story of two children constantly on the run from the intimidating Powell, desperately searching for refuge.  It’s themes are universal; the fundamental battle of good versus evil, the duality of man (hammered home with the “love” and “hate” that our evil preacher has tattooed on his hands), and the need for children to be protected from the predators of the world, lest they be eaten up. It’s part Biblical allegory and part Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, viewed through the prism of the Depression era Deep South.

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