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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Lodger (1944)



Reviews and Comments

This fictional account of the Jack the Ripper murders (a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's first characteristic thriller, the 1927 film of the same name) packs an unsettling punch. The story itself is good but not distinctive -- it's the mood this film creates that's memorable. The cinematography relies heavily on harsh lights, shadows, and thick fog, resulting in an atmosphere so rich, it makes up for the minor plot contrivances, including abnormally dimwitted goodguys.

The plot has the serial killer hiding out as a lodger in an upstanding family's home. His motives are kept in the dark for much of the film, which creates some uneasy tension in his scenes with the family he shares a roof with. Among the family members is a young actress, whom the lodger seems to have taken an unhealthy interest in. The final act does not disappoint. In addition to the requisite showdown is a blunt revealing of the killer's rationale behind his actions -- which prove as disturbing and satisfying as the film's atmosphere.

Today, too many serial killer films dote on the acts of murder themselves. The Lodger, on the other hand, is well aware that the murders are only important insofar as what they mean to the killer. Most of the murders take place off screen, and this makes for a more powerful film.

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