Shock (1946)

In San Francisco a woman (Anabel Shaw) goes to a hotel where she’ll meet her husband who has been a prisoner of war for two years. While wandering around in her room she notices from her balcony door, a woman having an argument and then suddenly being killed by her husband (Vincent Price). The next morning her husband walks into the room to find his wife in shock. So the hotel psychiatrist (Vincent Price) is called in to treat the woman and he soon realises he was seen and he sets out to destroy his only witness by drugs and hypnosis.

Vincent Price can make something out of really nothing and that’s what he does in this film. The whole premise is rather well thought up; just the execution was handled rather flatly, with only small pockets of jabs amongst many stodgy parts. Price comes across as one of few positives going for it. He brings to Dr. Richard Cross a shady character that’s suave and he delivers such stilted and blunt dialogue in a very smooth way. Lynn Bari was fine as Dr. Cross assistant Elaine Jordan, she very much came across as an ice queen. The same can’t be said about the rest of the drab performances. The one idea plot is basically slowly plodded and tries to be clever, but it falls short. There are just some laughably bad circumstances popping up. One being the ending, which was rather whimsy for my liking, with everything tied up all to nicely. But there were two or three good moments created. I got to hand it to them, you actually feel rather anxious for the girl when they’re messing with her mind. Even a stormy night is chucked into one sequence and it’s one of the most effective moments in the film and other would be a well-shot dream sequence. The setting of the film is pretty good, as they make great use of the hospital where the film mostly takes place. It’s a very dimly lit interior, though maybe it was the picture that was real dark, but really that added to the film then take away from it. But saying, it wasn’t particularly atmospheric or suspenseful. Yeah, there were two or three good spurts, but the story and direction just lack that bite and conviction to draw up a tight and gripping experience. There are just too many moments where it builds up for something, but then it goes nowhere with it. What did build greatly was the highly prolific score, with its conniving and tense nature, but also staying within the graceful moments.

The film tries for a Hitchcock vibe, but turns out to be an uninspiring wannabe thriller. Its just too bad, as the idea was definitely promising. Still, it’s a reasonable waste of time.