This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Lowbacca’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I have to lead with that I really didn't enjoy The Night of the Hunter as a movie. There's something about the story's pacing or something that just made this very hard to get through, particularly about the first half hour or so. It's an interesting premise, it just feels stale and unengaging, although it does pick up quite a bit. That said, I lost focus on this so much that I think I watched about 10 minutes of it three times before it stuck.
However, there's some parts of this movie that were so masterful that even though I think it'd take a while to get around to ever rewatching it, I can't not notice how technically good this was. First of all, I thought the performances from Robert Mitchum as Harry Powell, Shelley Winters as Willa Harper, and Lilian Gish as Rachel Cooper were all great. More to it, though, is that so much of this movie was almost profoundly beautiful. Harper dead in her car, sitting on the bottom of a river is the sort of shot in a movie that really demonstrates how cinema is an art, in my view, and it's hauntingly beautiful. There's a lot of other shots that I simply just greatly enjoy in here, particularly as the kids escape down river and there's a lot of good shots, I think.
For any issues I may have with this being underwhelming plotwise, it's largely well-acted and so much of this movie looks amazing. I wish I'd enjoyed it more.