The Seventh Victim Reviews

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rubystevens
Super Reviewer
May 31, 2008
a brilliant dark mystery from producer val lewton, this was director mark robson's first film. it's a rather obvious inspiration for rosemary's baby with a shower scene that looks awfully familiar as well. with a nihilistic tone and a shocking final scene, it's a wonder this film ever got made in hollywood. one of the great unseen thrillers from the golden age, starring beaver cleaver's dad and zora from planet of the apes!
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2006
The 7th Victim doesn't sound like much on paper but viewing it is an entirely different matter. It's a precursor to Rosemary's Baby, The Third Man and has has a shower scene that... well, just see it for yourself. One of Val Lewton's more impressive accomplishments. The 7th Victim also has a great cast that compliments is eerie photography very well. It gets its point across in its 71-minute running time but oddly leaves you wanting just a little bit more. It also serves as proof that Lewton never really got his due, but was way ahead of his time...
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
This movie is predictable and unscary, but there are some good scenes too. This movie's not bad, but it's not good either.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2008
A young girl searches New York for her elder sister, who has fallen in with a group of devil-worshippers. This isn't top-notch Val Lewton but it's still pretty great. I think there are more scenes and more characters than the typically slender running time can adequately sustain. Consequently, although there are some lovely atmospheric touches, they tend to be rather fleeting; I would have liked to have savoured them a little while longer. The softly spoken intimidation of Kim Hunter in the shower is wonderfully sinister, in its own quiet way every bit as good as Hitchcock's famous and flashy shower scene in Psycho. A very sweet Kim Hunter makes her screen début and Jean Brooks sports one of the most striking hairstyles in B-movie history. Due in no small part to the wistful presence of Brooks, The Seventh Victim is a strange, surprisingly depressing little movie; probably not a good one to watch if you're feeling down in the dumps.
Super Reviewer
June 2, 2008
Although most of the themes are left to imagination, as usual in any Val Lewton horror production, I surrender to the moody atmosphere director Mark Robson sets up. This was indeed a film ahead of its time, in its depiction of devil worshipers not as strange entities or mad caricatures, but as any rather normal person with desires of success. Two horror masterpieces came to my mind while watching this, Psycho and Rosemary's baby, both surprisingly melded in an excellent shower scene, in which the shadow of a lady with a hat looks very much like a horned satanic figure.
½ August 30, 2009
Very stylish and ahead of its time. Cool mixture of horror and noir. Interesting depiction of devil worshipers as not demons or cartoonish crazies- but as selfish and bad people but ones that could be your co-workers or neighbors. Great use of shadow and light.
½ November 12, 2008
Actually, The 7th Victim is pretty similar to Rosemary's Baby, but made 25 years earlier. I must say that this is a terribly underrated early horror classic that is truly scary and suspenseful. Val Lewton really knows what he's doing. One thing that I didn't enjoy was Kim Hunter's acting...but it was her first role.
October 28, 2008
Not unlike most of Val Lewton's stuff, short. 71 minutes, not much in the way of action which is fine, some very creepy moments and themes, but a far cry from, say, Hitchcock (yeah, I know, Master comparisons aren't fair.)
½ November 24, 2007
An interesting blend of noir and horror. The wonderful use of shadows certainly enhance the horror scenes, particularly a creepy shower scene that obviously influenced Psycho. The satanic stuff might have also influenced Rosemary's Baby. I don't really care for the film's message it's not really explored enough to be interesting.
½ August 2, 2008
The very last of the Val Lewton/RKO horror cycle--not chronologically, but the last for me to see--and one paired, on DVD, with a documentary on Val Lewton instead of another one of his movies (a rather interesting documentary with horror experts of the non-fiction writing kind and the more modern director and writer kind--Romero, Dante, del Toro, Matheson, Ramsey Campbell, Harlan Ellison, Gaiman...). We see the return of Tom Conway, not only to a Val Lewton film, but in fact, as the same character--psychiatrist Dr. Louis Judd, from Cat People.

Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter) is a young woman studying at a private school, pulled into the administrator's office to be informed that her sister, who has been paying for her tuition, has disappeared--and tuition has not been paid for the past six months. She's sent away to try and find her sister, Jacqueline (Jean Brooks), chasing her to her cosmetics factory, restaurants, rented rooms and names she is given, never seeming to get anywhere near her sister. Jason Hoag (Erford Gage) is a failed writer, who suggests the missing persons department of the police. After giving her report there, she is given the advice of checking the morgue by excitable private eye Irving August (Lou Lubin), where she is given the name Gregory Ward (Hugh Beaumont--yes, later Ward Cleaver, and just as whitebread), only to discover this man is Jacqueline's husband. They find themselves ensnared in a rather noir-esque web of the satan-worshipping (!) Palladists and the varying pasts and knowledge of the people who've interacted with Jacqueline.

As is often the case with Lewton films, I'm stunned to look down at the runtime for the first time and find only fifteen minutes has passed--not because I feel it's been dragging, but because so much has happened in what is normally a sixth or an eight of a movie, but is nearly a quarter of it here. It's this rapid pace that I think helps Lewton's films so very much, keeping it up and preventing any dead space or drag from ever occurring. Similarly, they bear an honesty about them--even in flawed performances (dear me, the Italian restaurant owner...), we can see a strange honesty to them. It struck me that this is the most important thing in any film to my eyes, or even any writing--that it does not overreach its grasp. Certainly it can fail to reach it, and it can aim quite high, but when it's clear that the overriding elements do not congeal, the grasp was more than any person in the production had (barring, I suppose with a nod to Mr. Ellison, the original writer). A weak performance, or a collection of them, or effects that do not come together, can all be saved by an overall understanding that someone involved in the production had a very clear idea that they tried to put together and knew the right elements for, limited only by weaknesses along the way in other people. When a movie, a novel, anything does not attempt to be anything more than it is--which is not to say a horror film, for interest, must remain a horror film and nothing more, or anything else so limiting--or anything, more importantly, more than the folks in control of it can indeed manage. This is what Val Lewton brought to all of his films--a vision that he understood himself. The actors were not always up to the task, though they usually were (and exceptions were typically quite small roles), and certainly the budget limited many elements, and studio interference could cause issues, but Lewton clearly knew how to get the films he built and allegedly screen-wrote all of.

Alas, this is not one I can stand fully behind. There's a hideously corny scene where Conway confronts the Satanist Palladists and cows them with the most absurdly obvious thing in the world--The Lord's Prayer. Really now. They'd never heard it before? That really made them doubt themselves? Please. Give me a break here. Beyond that, there were a greater number of weak roles--Beaumont is, as I say, rather whitebread. There's a romance that blooms inexplicably between him and Mary, perhaps just to satisfy the studio's hunger for wide audiences ("Something for the women!"), but it comes off as ridiculous. It was peculiar to see Dr. Judd again, considering his previous role, though nice to see him a little less sleazy--and it definitely set my reference and intersection-loving heart a-fluttter. But for once Lewton did not perfectly insert the "supernatural" element this time (though as always it was not terribly supernatural)--Satanists? Perhaps I couldn't swallow it simply because of that absurd final appearance they make. Still, Jacqueline's chase scene near the end is excellent, the light-swallowing noir shadows the fill the film are beautiful and Jacqueline's final fate is ahead of its time, but it doesn't all quite come together.
July 30, 2008
Maybe one of the moodier and darker of Lewton's produced films... it doesn't rely on the supernatural, just the darker side of human nature.
June 13, 2007
Interesting mystery that drives the story (whatever happened to her sister?), shocking set pieces, and a genuinely creepy and foreboding atmosphere make the film an interesting to watch, unfortunately the pacing is slow and plot is not as complex or surprising as the first act suggests. Still, a good chiller with some truly well-executed sequences.
½ March 16, 2015
Horror fanatics discuss Val Lewton like he's a sort of shadow obsessed God. The producer of low-budget, WWII era horror films renowned for their innovative use of lighting to create a supernaturally spooky tone, projects like "Cat People" and "The Leopard Man" aren't lumped together with the schlocky frankness of "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" or "The Mummy." They're held in a sort of shimmering prestige: Martin Scorsese considers the Lewton produced "Isle of the Dead" to be the 11th scariest horror movie of all time; Leonard Maltin believes "I Walked with a Zombie" is an exceptional forage into B-movie terror. But maybe I'm harder to please than most.
I prefer coffee-stained cinematography to slimy gore when it comes to the genre, but no matter how I look at it, I consider the films of Lewton to be ingeniously shot, but not much more than that. Sure, there is a building dread that causes our adrenaline to genuinely pump (especially in comparison to other chillers of the time), but I've never been truly frightened by one of his films; many act as though they're as disturbing as the untamed throes of modern horror. With the exception of the excellent "Cat People," they are well-made, if forgettable, B-movies. Maybe I'm just not as much of a Lewton aficionado as I'd like to be.
This shouldn't suggest that his films are bad; they're anything but. For the 1940s, they're more stylistically daring than anything in the decade. They rely solely on their photography and ghostly atmosphere, a dangerous move during a time where most studio heads would have an easier time pasting Frankenstein makeup onto the latest macabre personality.
"The Seventh Victim," which is probably Lewton's second best film, after "Cat People," of course, goes into the darkest territory of all his films combined. This time, island roaming zombies or lady panthers are not the villains. Satan worshippers are. The climax is not a seismic relief but a distressing suicide, an ending unthinkable when happy endings were at their historic peak. "The Seventh Victim" takes risk after risk after risk after risk, a series of dares that should pay off. But with its low production value and upsettingly short running time (a mere 71 minutes), things feel cluttered. There isn't quite enough room to develop the story into something earthshakingly haunting; the plot twist comes by so quickly that it doesn't hit us with nearly as much fury as it might have liked to. But if it were produced by anyone other than Lewton, it certainly wouldn't have the staying power it so proudly boasts. With its nightmarishly inky corridors and ingeniously characterized villains, it leaves a frightening taste in our mouth when the story offs itself before anything too stimulating happens.
Kim Hunter portrays Mary, a naive young woman who is getting her education at Miss Highcliff's boarding school. Before the film even has time to explain itself, Mary is called into her headmistresses office. It seems that Jacqueline (Jean Brooks), Mary's older sister and only relative, has not paid for her tuition in months. Facing financial hardship, the school offers Mary a choice; she can either stay by working as a student aid, or she can find a different place to learn.
Mary, wary of the school's clingy ways, decides to take on the real world. She figures she'll find Jacqueline in a short amount of time, and, with enough education on her side, will be able to find work for herself. But after just a few days of searching, Mary begins to realize that Jacqueline isn't simply on a vacation or something charming like that. She is involved in something hideous, something unspeakable; and after committing a crime, she may have to pay for it with her life.
For a film with satanists as its antagonists, "The Seventh Victim" is a surprisingly mature movie, where the foes are not fire-breathing devils but rather people you could pass by on the street without even noticing something strange. As Mary descends into a progressively alarming situation, we can't help but be even more frightened than she is; she believes that she's going to reunite with her sister in harmony, but we know that something much more evil is circling around her whereabouts. In a way, this is the most unsettling thing about the film. Because we know so much and because Mary knows so little, we instinctively want to protect her. But like her sister, we know that we're much too far in over our head to make any major changes.
The story may not stick with you, but its images will. In her brief appearance, Jean Brooks, covered in thick furs and surrounded by an onyx mane, makes a statement, looking like an apotheosis of the crossroads between good and evil. The infamous shower scene, an obvious precursor to the carnage of "Psycho," has a blink-and-you'll miss it allusion that only enhances the indirect jolts of the film. "Cat People," along with "The Seventh Victim" are the best films to come out of the Lewton cannon; shame about the overrated others.
½ February 13, 2015
As mulheres e o diabo dançam ao ritmo da intriga de temperamentos, nesta produção da RKO, que, apesar de uma sofisticação à prova do tempo, nunca chega ser especialmente memorável. O imparável entra e sai de tantas personagens, condensado em apenas 70 minutos, não ajuda nada à compreensão do que se está a passar.
January 20, 2015
Aunque posee buenos momentos y estèticamente està muy bien, le falta algo para engancharte.
July 25, 2014
No matter what happens, don't come back.

Mary Gibson arrives in Greenwich Village after her sister, Jacqueline, seems to have disappeared. She gets to know the area and some locals and gets involved with devil worshippers. What are the chances that the worshippers had something to do with her sister's death?

"They wanted me to die. Kill myself."

Mark Robson, director of Earth Quake, Von Ryan's Express, Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls, Trial, The Harder they Fall, Bedlam, and Isle of the Dead, delivers The Seventh Victim. The storyline for this picture was just okay and a little too cleanly delivered. The characters were also only so interesting. The acting was solid and the cast includes Isabel Jewel, Kim Hunter, Evelyn Brent, Hugh Beaumont, and Ben Bard.

"She was asking about us."

I grabbed this movie off Turner Classic Movies (TCM) last Halloween season. I thought this was a unique horror film; unfortunately, it is pretty ordinary. Overall, this movie was pretty average, maybe slightly above average due to the character dynamics.

"I'm under orders to make you laugh."

Grade: C+
½ September 19, 2013
A few good scenes hidden in a dull movie. There is a remarkable shower scene which predates Psycho's.
½ September 6, 2013
Brilliant early film from producer Val Lewton's short-lived but revered horror cycle out of RKO Pictures. Kim Hunter is a young woman who arrives in New York to locate her missing older sister and benefactor (Jean Brooks). Hunter is doubly worried because Brooks has always been somewhat morose and unstable. She follows a trail of clues that lead her into a weird subterranean world of murder and devil worship; things don't get any better when Brooks turns up alive either. The film suffers from some serious narrative and logical flaws, but the atmosphere is almost overwhelmingly bleak, especially for a film from the early 1940s. It's notable not just for its supremely pessimistic tone but for the fact that it is a horror film by and about literate adults. It's also groundbreaking for containing a suspenseful shower sequence almost two decades before Hitchcock made Psycho. The end of this film is genuinely numbing. A wonderful, strange film that is full of surprises for the modern moviegoer.
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