Last night, I saw Seance on a Wet Afternoon. It's a darkly uncomfortable movie. As the atmospheric story unfolds, it justified my initial uneasiness. To say I enjoyed the movie would be inaccurate. The movie made me feel agitated, and when it was over it left me weary and unsettled. It was two hours of pure anxiety. I see a lot of movies where truly bad things happen; yet, I'm able to divorce myself from the narrative. Not so with this movie. It took me in, and there was no escape until the end.
Objectively, the movie is a masterpiece of suspense. It's almost Hitchcockian in its construction. For the first 30 minutes, I wasn't sure what was going to happen; yet it doesn't seem slow or muddled. The writing is tight, and the direction by Bryan Forbes captures the psychological complexities of the two main characters. The chilling performances by Kim Stanley and Richard Attenborough are faultless. By every measure, this is a very good movie. However, did I like it? And is liking a movie the only criterion by which to judge it?
The mark of a good movie is its ability to evoke emotion, and a suspense movie is supposed to make you feel fear and worry. This one did its job. I'm glad I saw it, but I could have done without the nightmares.