I’m okay in the dark, it’s usually the bright sunlight that gets to me!
Screenplay By: Jane-Howard & Robert Carrington
Directed By: Terence Young
I couldn’t imagine for a second what it’s like being blind. I can’t seven take guesses at what it would be like to be a blind person. I’m not sure if Wait Until Dark gets it all wrong. Seeing as it’s a Hollywood film chances are that it gets a lot wrong when it comes to the experience of being blind. If blind people, or those who know blind people, were to get upset at Wait Until Dark for its depiction of the blind I’d simply acknowledge them with a, “you know more than I do so you’re probably right.” The wonderful thing about the movies is that they don’t need to be realistic. That’s why it didn’t matter to me for a second that Wait Until Dark could possibly be way off in its depiction of blindness. What mattered to me was that Wait Until Dark managed to be a well made thriller with some great sequences.
Richard Crenna, Audrey Hepburn, and, especially, Alan Arkin are the three main factors in why Wait Until Dark is such a great film. The reality of Wait Until Dark is that at its core it’s nothing more than a decent thriller. The performances of the three main actors are evidence of what great acting can do for a decent film. Mr. Arkin is chilling, and often terrifying, as the aloof and mercurial villain of the piece. Mr. Crenna made me like him, even though I knew that I shouldn’t. He’s clearly a scumbag, but he very astutely sets himself as the lesser of two evils next to Mr. Arkin’s main villain. Miss Hepburn is Miss Hepburn, and that means she’s pretty darn great. I bought her being in peril, I bought her struggle for new found independence, and I bought how terrified she was of the situation she found herself in. Three great performances, and without them I can guarantee I would not have enjoyed Wait Until Dark anywhere near as much as I did.
Wait Until Dark isn’t a horror film in the most common usage of the word. It’s a borderline thriller, but the condition of Susy, Miss Hepburn, is what turns the film into a horror passage. Terence Young builds plenty of tension around Susy’s blindness and the vulnerability this brings forth in her. She’s never helpless, the last half of the film turns into a cat and mouse game at times with Susy matching her wits against the men trying to scare her. Then the final confrontation between hero and villain comes, and that is when the film ratchets up the tension of Susy’s blindness. We are kept in the dark at times, and when the darkness envelops the film it is frustrating. Not in a bad way mind you, but in a way where I feared for Susy and what could happen to her. What the film is asking of its audience is not only to fear for Susy in those moments of darkness but to share some of what Susy is feeling. We are on the outside looking in, but Susy is there with the killer in complete darkness. Mr. Young builds the horror of the film around the horror of being blind and vulnerable, and the film succeeds admirably at getting those feelings across.
It’s old fashioned, but Wait Until Dark is well made and a great example of tension driven horror. Something that Wait Until Dark did that I appreciated is that it let the cat out of the bag in regards to its mystery without interrupting the flow of the film. The screenplay relayed the information to the audience in a non-condescending way. In essence the screenplay was saying, “here’s everything you need to know, we’ll release it to you piece by piece. Now, forget about the mystery and focus on Susy and the men that are tormenting her.” For those horror buffs who’ve never thought of Wait Until Dark when searching for horror movies to watch, give this one a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and get to enjoy a well made horror film, and that’s what every horror buff should be looking for.