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Daughter of Darkness

Daughter of Darkness
In Ballyconnen, Emmy Baudine (Siobhan McKenna) is a beautiful but disturbed young woman who works for the local priest. When the carnival comes to town, she encounters a handsome young boxer called Dan (Maxwell Reed) and lays his face open with her fingernails when he expects sexual favours from her. Hurriedly packed off by Father Corcoran (Liam Redmond) to Yorkshire, Emmy is taken in by a farming family and manages to suppress the strange feelings of fascination and repulsion that she experiences in the presence of the opposite sex. Until, that is, the carnival comes to town and brings with it the vengeful Dan...

Reviews

John Chard
The Lilith Chapter. Daughter of Darkness is directed by Lance Comfort and adapted to screenplay by Max Catto from his own play titled They Walk Alone. It stars Anne Crawford, Maxwell Reed, Siobhan McKenna, George Thorpe, Barry Morse, Liam Redmond, Cyril Smith and Honor Blackman. Music is by Clifton Parker and cinematography by Stanley Pavey. Emmie Beaudine (McKenna) isn't liked by the women folk of the Irish village community where she lives. There's something about her that riles them, frightens them even. So when the women of the village round up on her keeper, the priest, she is sent off to live on a farm in a North Yorkshire county of England. Which is timely as she has had an altercation with one of the men from a travelling fair. Once at the "Tallent" family farm, Emmie settles in well and seems genuinely happy, but still some of the women folk in the vicinity view her with suspicion, and when a face from Emmie's past shows up, it's the catalyst for doom and desperation. It's an odd chiller of a movie, something of an acquired taste, it's hard to pigeonhole. Never overtly horror, noir or otherwise, it's not hard to see why some specialist genre fans have found it a disappointment. Yet if you can buy into Comfort and Catto's ethereal world there's a picture of great rewards here, a complex character study mingling with asides on sexual empowerment, even a story with supernatural leanings, the edges of which are deliberately shaded in grey. And of course there's the crime factor bulging at the seams, Emmie Beaudine a cold murderess, her rhyme and reason for being so repulsed by male sexual contact is again deliberately left floating in an emotionally distorted purgatory. Nicely photographed in black and white, the visual atmosphere is very tight to the murky themes swirling around the plot. There's also a number of memorable scenes, the hurly burly of the carnival sequences, the hauntingly troubling playing of an organ, and some super scenes featuring Thorn the Alsatian dog, a real life war hero (look him up, amazing animal) who is also very much a key character here. Strong acting performances around McKenna are a bonus (including the beautiful Blackman in her first credited role), but it is the Northern Irish actress who spellbindingly holds court, with much of her visual acting stunning in its execution. Love it or hate it, you wont be able to ignore it. 9/10

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