Daughter of Darkness (1948)

An interesting but rather poorly written early British horror filmDD Home Entertainment UK R2 DVD. Released 15th Jan '07

The Film

Emmy Beaudine is the young resident of a remote Irish village, her attractive appearance and flirty nature has made her the target for hatred for all the village women and they have conspired to drive her away. Meanwhile a travelling fair has come to town, and the boxer Dan takes an immediate fancy to her - however when he tries to get intimate with her, in a field, Emmy violently fights him off. In light of the women's claims Bess' carer, the local vicar, sends her to live with a farming family in North Yorkshire (England), where she soon arouses the suspicions of the women and the passions of the men - until a travelling fair arrives with a familiar, scarred face...

Written by Max Catto, and based on his play, They Walk Alone, the script is heavily flawed. Mostly dialogue based, its theatrical origins mean that the text is written to a high standard and the frequent talky scenes never become dull. However, promoted as a horror film and a psychological thriller, Daughter of Darkness does not work particularly well as either. Emmy is a curious character, seemingly interesting in leading men on (although in the first two cases, she seems to do so very passively), she has some sort of fear of intimacy that leads her to kill - unfortunately, this is never explained in the script, or even particularly explored, nor her random church organ playing (in the play, this is what gives her the incentive to kill) or even devout religious attendance. The story has interesting themes - the impact of a sexually active woman in a repressed community - but the murderess element seems almost tacked on. Despite building up to a decent climax, the ending is distinctly poor and seems to have been written in an attempt to give the audience a cheap shock (the only one of the film).

With a large budget, the film does look very good, including some effective set-pieces in a fun fair, and in a full-scale burning barn (no model shots used here) and a strong orchestral soundtrack is provided. The acting is good all round, with Siobhan McKenna very impressive as Emmy, and future bond girl Honor Blackman as one of the Yorkshire family's daughters (no explanation is given for the distinctly posh tones of the rural Yorkshire family, but it should only bother the most attentive of viewers).

Although billed as a psychological thriller, Daughter of Darkness really has no more pyschology than a 1980s slasher movie (indeed many of these at least gave their killer a motive), and in keeping with its period, has a lot less action or horror. Not really worthly of 'lost gem' status, it might prove interesting to fans of early British horror, but does not come recommended.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? No-one of note.
Directed by anyone interesting? Lance Comfort - a lesser known British director who worked mostly during the 1950s.
Any gore/violence? None on screen, some mild hints.
Any sex? Some hints.
Who is it for?
Of interest to fans of early British horror, but not generally recommended.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio  - 1.33:1 fullscreen. Black and white.
Given its age, the print looks good. There is some print damage, lots of grain, and several scenes very bright with some flickering. Not as good as a fully restored title, it is a million miles better than a public domain disc, and always watchable.
Audio English mono. Sounds fine, although there is a hum in the background throughout.
Subtitles None.
ExtrasNone on the the disc. The case includes a very detailed 24 page booklet, with illustrations, that gives the background to the film and details on its filming.
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? No other releases.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. English language print.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 13th January 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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