Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)

This grim British chiller’s title says it all: the grainy black-and-white film allows not a shred of sunshine or color as we follow a guilt-ridden Richard Attenborough around London as he carries out unhinged wife Kim Stanley’s plan to “borrow” a rich little girl and make everyone believe their own long-dead son has revealed to her the girl’s whereabouts in an afternoon séance. Everything about Séance on a Wet Afternoon  is gray and gloomy; the boarded windows of the room where the girl is hidden, Stanley’s eerie hospital-nurse pretense as she ministers to the drugged child, Attenborough’s desperate unraveling as the little girl grows ill and remorse and shame overtake him. The rain dominates: windshield wipers on chauffeur-driven cars, umbrellas popping open, splashing puddles—even the music sounds like dripping water, and the raindrops on the camera lens will make you feel as if it’s your window you’re looking through, and that you’re damned thankful to be inside.


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