The Night of the Hunter - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Night of the Hunter Reviews

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August 15, 2016
At the time of its release, this was for sure a very frightening experience. Nowadays, it is still a haunting classic as I remembered it to be upon watching it for the first time.
August 10, 2016
Hauntingly beautiful cinematography, a fabulous score, and an indelible performance by Robert Mitchum who plays one of the most chilling villains in cinema. Despite a nauseating, sugary ending, Night of the Hunter is deservedly a classic.
Super Reviewer
August 4, 2016
It's intelligently written, exploring themes such religion and good versus evil while also being structurally innovative and experimental. However, what is so special about The Night of the Hunter has less to do with its excellent screenplay and more to do with the execution. The cast is phenomenal (Robert Mitchum is the stand out), and their performances are highlighted by an understated visual style, relying heavily on longer takes and little camera movement. Furthermore, this style also leads way to some of the most striking and beautiful imagery I have ever seen in a film. These images, many of which contain deep contrast and expert blocking, are not only haunting, but also incredibly effective in telling the story visually, rather than overly relying on dialogue. The Night of the Hunter is a celebration of cinema. The attention to detail in every single aspect makes for one of the best cinematic experiences I've ever had. If for nothing else, this film embodies the power of experimentation. In a world filled with so many derivative films, it is worth remembering how rewarding it can be when filmmakers step outside their comfort zone. As a viewer, you should, too.
July 17, 2016
Unfortunately this movie was too dated and slow-paced for me to be engaged or in any kind of suspense. The lecture from the old lady at the end was the last straw for me. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but perhaps it could be remade, Lord help us all.
July 5, 2016
Charles Laughton directs the film effectively with a lot of technical expertise and he's the real star here. Mitchum is good, but not as great as the critics claim to be. The film is not disturbing, neither is its central character because you always get a predictable PG-13 feel from it. It did have a good story that just didn't rely too much on cliches.
June 28, 2016
Nicely shot and executed with a disturbing villain.
June 2, 2016
Unusually dark for a 50's film where kids are playing such a large part. The story is quite predictable but it's still quite good; Robert Mitcham is perfectly cast.
May 23, 2016
One of the finest pieces of American cinema ever made. If you haven't seen it, move it to the top of your list.
April 27, 2016
The Night of the Hunter (1955) ????
Frighteningly powerful film with arguably Mitchum's finest performance as "priest" who lies his way to get what he wants, he even stalks his own step-children to get his hands on filthy money. Stark, haunting
March 19, 2016
The traces of german expressionism in some of the shots/nightmarish quality when from the point of view of the children is cool, as well as the shots set up like a storybook. I didn't find it at all scary though. I feel like it was technically quite good and inventive, but fell slightly flat and didn't pull all the way through with what it was going for.
½ March 19, 2016
While not personally scared, I did enjoy the elements of German expressionism.
March 16, 2016
This story is real good and its easy to see why its considered a classic but this movie desperately needs a remake suited for its dark and biblical subject matter.
½ March 15, 2016
An intriguing oddity, Night Of The Hunter was the only movie directed by Charles Laughton. The Depression era is a perfect backdrop for this moral fable and fairytale combined. The story was adapted for the screen by James Agee (The African Queen), and Stanley Cortez's superb cinematography heightens its overheated, Southern Gothic style. Robert Mitchum is at his most menacing as the corrupt preacher, Shelley Winters is his victim, and Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce play the children left behind. Their salvation comes with the appearance of Lillian Gish, an actress who for me defines what cinema is all about.
March 6, 2016
When you watch a film directed by a Welles or a Hitchcock, you know that you're about to see a great film. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER is a very different story. This is a first-time director, child actors, a scenery-chewing villain, pre-established source material, and a backwoods setting. In many cases throughout film history these elements have amounted to something strange or just downright repugnant. Not here. Here, the combined efforts of the great Charles Laughton, the great Robert Mitchum, and the great Stanley Cortez all add up to a film so good that it's difficult to compliment it without simply regurgitating what other, more qualified people have already said before.

Simply put, if you're an aspiring filmmaker looking to direct a thriller or a suspense tale, don't look to books or articles or pontification, but rather seek out two things as the models for how to properly tell a suspense story: the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and the film (singular) of Charles Laughton. This is a film so dark and strange that the whole affair's overall mystery rivals even that of its own antagonist. See it.
½ February 25, 2016
The Night of the Hunter is astounding. It's a frightening, almost dream-like fairy-tale brought to life by the absolutely gorgeous cinematography and Robert Mitchum's terrifying portrayal of a wolf in sheep's clothing.
February 14, 2016
I am going against the grain here but I thought this movie was a big disappointment. I blame Laughton's direction primarily, but the script was also to blame. All of the characters in this movie were extremely one dimensional, which was compounded by them breaking the fourth wall (often as they talked to God but it was really the audience) to explain their motives and feelings in the most simple and straightforward manner. Everything they did or wanted to do was projected so far in advance, and was usually so simple minded and obvious anyway, I felt a constant feeling of frustration as the movie progressed. The audience is never given a chance to think for themselves. Laughton's direction is heavy handed, with overdone set pieces and film school symbolism. The entire film lacks a sense of continuity, as if it were assembled in the cutting room from isolated takes where the director was feeding the actor's the lines as he wanted them to be read. I am a big fan of Mitchum, but here he feels stiff and unconvincing. Who would believe him for a second? The plot wouldn't move forward one inch unless it weren't filled with inane characters constantly making dumb decisions. If you want to see Mitchum evoke some convincing menace, rent Cape Fear.
February 4, 2016
A gorgeously photographed clunker. Its "classic" status baffles me. Some good sequences, though.
January 26, 2016
The cinematography is masterful especially for its time, but the film lacks the suspense I was looking for. It's overacted by Robert Mitchum, although he will creep you out. I think it's a little overrated, but it is a decent film to see once. (First and only viewing - 1/4/2015)
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