SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON
Bryan Forbes, UK, 1964, 35mm, 121′
Images Courtesy of Park Circus/ITV Studios.
Séance on a Wet Afternoon, based on the 1961 novel by Mark McShane, is a hair-raising classic of British genre cinema. The unsettling cinematography and the ominous setting of a Victorian house build the chilling atmosphere of this absolute gem of slow burning psychological tension, in which a medium (played by Oscar-nominated Kim Stanley) convinces her downtrodden husband (equally brilliant Richard Attenborough) to kidnap a wealthy industrialist’s child so she can help the police solve the crime and gain fame for her abilities.
“Kim Stanley can hardly be known to most of today’s cinema audiences: she appears in only four films, and her fame rests on her stage work (even that is pretty sparse). She plays degenerating women, yet her technique is not the Mad Medusa writ large, such as Swanson in Sunset Blvd. or Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She’s creepier than that, and more believable. In the movie, she is married to a meek and mild Attenborough – a childless marriage in a gloomy Victorian house. /…/ Her performance is utterly superb, and so too is Attenborough’s: with his leather crash helmet, goggles and clapped-out motor-bike, he looks like a reject Hell’s Angel from Orphée.”
– Time Out
“The perfect psychological suspense thriller and a flawless film to boot.”
– The New York Herald Tribune