The Night of the Hunter - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Night of the Hunter Reviews

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July 12, 2017
The Night of The Hunter was actor Charles Laughton's first, and surprisingly only directorial effort. Based on the novel of the same name, written only a few years before this film adaptation. It tells the story of the manipulative, psychopathic, and murderous, preacher Henry Powell who after being arrested for car theft and sent to prison, comes into contact with a man that before being arrested, and sentenced to death by hanging, hid ten thousand dollars. Once Powell learns of this, he immediately goes after the money when he's released from jail. This sets the films plot in motion, where the only thing standing between him and the money are the mans two small, innocent kids.

The Night of The Hunter at its core is about the infinite battle between good and evil, and how one always eventually triumphs over the other. The message of this never ending battle is shown throughout the entire film. From Powells tattooed knuckles, reading love and hate, to the the final confrontation between the kind old woman, and Powell. The film also seems to have a message about the selfishness and corruptibility of humans. Powell believes that god agrees with his actions, but only because he's twisted everything in his own odd way. He is someone who was corrupted by the world long ago. John and Pearl on the other hand, the two young kids, are completely innocent, too young to have felt the corruption that the world they live in offers. This makes the encounter with the preacher even more frightening for them. By the end of the film Johns innocence is almost completely gone, and he just wishes the money never existed in the first place. It's almost a twisted coming of age story by the end.

The film, despite a slow, plot heavy beginning is worth watching. It uses shadows and the black and white format brilliantly, helping to create some creepy, unsettling scenes and imagery. Robert Mitchum is great as Powell, and the child actors do a solid job as well. Laughton does a great job directing, especially for a first film, thanks in no small part to Stanley Cortez's beautiful cinematography. Night of The Hunter was actually a critical and commercial failure on release in 1955, criticized for its taboo themes, and mixing of genres. This was extremely discouraging to Laughton, and stopped him from ever trying his hand at directing again. It's an absolute shame considering how well regarded the film has become over the last twenty years. It was sadly just a film that needed its audience to be a little more accepting, and open minded then they were at the time.
July 8, 2017
Brilliant film awesomely stylish almost could be called religious film noir
½ July 2, 2017
Classic. Dated, of course, by today's standards but had to be unique in it's day.
May 31, 2017
Truly one of the scariest 'non horror' films of all time, and Preacher Harry Powell is certainly the most purely, evil screen villain - like a cross between The Terminator and The Child Catcher. Epic. Beautifully shot too in black &white - the contrast between dark and light, emphasising the good and evil characters on-screen. Definitely in my top 5 all-time greats.
½ December 22, 2016
It's been a while since I've seen a B-movie that really impressed me. The acting grabs your attention, especially the kids; morality vs depression era is the name of the story, and doing what you can is the end game.
½ November 16, 2016
Charles Laughton's only directing effort is a psychological horror that poeticizes the throes of good and evil with intriguing use of light and silhouette.
October 22, 2016
Great movie. It's like a fairy tale about good and evil wrapped up in the horror and noir shell, with a chilling Robert Mitchum's performance as a serial killer/false prophet.
½ October 5, 2016
Good, but dated. The non-stop biblical references got old quickly for me.
October 5, 2016
Charles Laughton had only one directing credit to his name, and it was this unnerving noirish thriller.
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.
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