Symptoms ★★★★

Crazy in Love

Of the three José Larraz films I’ve seen so far, this is my favourite, although it does stand in very good company. This eerie, affecting, low-key gem is very much a companion piece to his debut feature, Whirlpool. Both feature a small cast (a ménage à trois of sorts) – situated in and around a remote property that is adjacent to a forest and lake/river – and a (possibly ghostly) central mystery,

While Whirlpool is really rather good and well worth a watch (as is Vampires, Larraz’s quick-fire follow-up to this film), Symptoms is more accomplished. Angela Pleasence is excellent as preoccupied main protagonist Helen, and she’s more than ably supported by Lorna Heilbron as supportive friend Anne. And it’s rare to find anything featuring Peter Vaughan that isn’t worth watching.

Larraz wrote the screenplay with Stanley Miller, adapting it from a story by Thomas Owen. The director fashions a tightly focused psychodrama that benefits from a gorgeously muted colour scheme (courtesy of cinematographer Trevor Wrenn, who captures the autumnal hues of the woodland scenes beautifully) and sympathetic art design by Ken Bridgeman.

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