Whenever I’m finally all caught up with Ingmar Bergman‘s filmography, I’ll be able to make some definitive, all-encompassing statements about the man’s unquestionably great chops. For now, though, I’ve only seen a handful of the Swedish director’s work, and so far my favorite is 1968’s creepy-as-all-hell Hour of the Wolf, (or, Vargtimmen). A largely-quiet, always unnerving little film that I first stumbled upon in an old issue of Complex Magazine, of all places (it was listed in a small Halloween-themed movie recommendation list). Full of distressing moments that’ll leave you unsure and baffled, yet consistently feeling as if you’re knee-deep in a vivid, esoteric nightmare being had with no alarm clock or loud noises in sight.
Max Von Sydow (Bergman’s regular leading man) headlines as tortured soul Johan, a man stricken by terrifying delusions of past tragedies, day-and-nighttime visions also experienced by his wife, Alma. There’s also a wealthy chap living nearby in a dark castle along with similarly-well-off friends who seem to have ghostly abilities, and could possibly be the ones responsible for Johan’s undying state of dementia.
Necrophilia, Gothic vibes right out of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, and the horrors of public humiliation all come into play, giving Hour of the Wolf a predominantly sinister tone. This is one to watch alone, lights turned off, doors locked, windows shut. That’s precisely how I watched it for the first time, and I nearly soiled my drawers (true story).
After the jump, a Spoiler-ific scene that serves as the film’s climax, and shows just how forward-thinking Bergman was in his heebies jeebies (remember while watching this that the film came out in 1968):