Teenage hipster Amanda (Susan George) is babysitting for the Lloyds – Helen (Honor Blackman) and Jim (George Cole) – in their gloomy, secluded and morbidly-furnished old house.
Once the Lloyds depart, leaving Amanda alone with their 3-year-old son, Tara (played by director Peter Collinson’s real-life son, Tara Collinson), every sound in the house takes on added menace – the dripping tap, a creaking door, a ticking clock, a mysterious tapping sound, footsteps – and of course, a sudden face at the window.
Everything is an assault on Amanda’s nerves.
The face at the window turns out to be Amanda’s boyfriend, Chris (Dennis Waterman), popping around for a spot of hows your father.
Meanwhile, Helen and Jim are at the pub with Dr Cordell (John Gregson), the doctor who is dealing with Helen’s ex-husband Brian (Ian Bannen) – Tara’s biological father and a certified homicidal maniac who is housed in a local sanitarium after previously attempting to kill Helen and her son.
Back at the house, young Chris has been turfed out and meets a particularly grizzly end on his way out. Looks like Brian is no longer in the sanitarium . . .
Fright is low on actual blood and gore but high on psychological horror, unseen menace and danger – which is often more terrifying – and well ahead of other bigger-name examples like Halloween, which came seven years later in 1978.
That said, the film narrowly misses out on being a Brit horror classic due to the drawn-out ending.
The film actually has the perfect finale, but that turns out to be a false ending, with the actual end coming after a rather slow police stand-off.
Roger Lloyd Pack