Séance on a Wet Afternoon Movie Review

Here's a good scam: Woman, trying to prove her ability as a psychic, kidnaps the child of a wealthy couple so she can use "her powers" to later find the child. She's not really in it for the money, alas. She's a raving lunatic.

Kim Stanley earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a woman on the edge -- reminiscent of Angela Lansbury's turn in The Manchurian Candidate -- but it's Richard Attenborough who steals the show as her husband, who goes along with the affair but is torn between pleasing his wife and doing the right thing.

Seance on a Wet Afternoon is a slow burn as Myra (Stanley) hatches her plan, maintaining a calm demeanor while her husband totally cracks up. It is also unfortunately a bit too slow of a burn for my tastes, agonizing in the hour or so occupied after the sad couple have received their payoff. Will they or won't they get caught -- especially after the kidnapping victim contracts -- gasp! -- a fever. The drama in the film is massively front-ended, leaving a long and protracted denouement that never quite gels. (Kidnapping movies are tough! Have any of them ever come off very well?)

That said, it's a claustrophobic experience and an interesting study of grief-induced insanity, but the pacing is the obvious reason why you've never heard of this film before.

Unfortunately, a very rough soundtrack on this newly-released DVD, punctuated by long stretches of nearly inaudible dialogue and flecked with very loud orchestral cues, tends to dull an already iffy film. In the end, it's a fair rental but not terribly worth your while.

Comments

Séance on a Wet Afternoon Rating

" OK "

Rating: NR, 1964

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