This is one of my favorite haunted house movies. It is such a well-paced, slow build-up of tension and spookiness. The story is compelling and engaging. George C. Scott is amazing as a University Professor of music who has suffered a tragic loss and is simply trying to move on with his life and finds himself in a supernatural experience that he is fighting to understand.
This movie lives and dies on the Internal Conflict of Scott’s character, John Russell. In the opening of the movie, we see Russell witness the accidental deaths of his wife and daughter. That alone is fodder for massive internal conflict. We see Russell trying to move on with his life as he gets back into academia. He rents a historical mansion with a music room and not long after, some strange things begin occurring.
Russell is convinced it’s the spirit of his wife or daughter trying to communicate. There are moving objects, pianos that pay by themselves, séances, and revelations regarding a murdered child in his house.
Internal conflict in film is trickier to show. It’s not as action based as external conflict. It’s usually always rooted in emotion. Russell’s struggle to let go of his wife and daughter and move on is palpable. He clings to the hope that the spirit trying to communicate with him is one of his loved ones becomes a difficult realization when he discovers the story unfolding for him. Then the conflict becomes an internal struggle as to whether or not he should do something to help this spirit resolve its issues.
It’s a very Hitchcock-ish in style, especially considering the twist regarding the ghost. The cast is impeccable including Melvin Douglas. There are scenes where the tension is built so well that you find yourself gripping your seat. That having been said, give this one a look. You will not regret it. It’s classy and stands up to the test of time.