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Review Still of the Night (1982): Flawed but very entertaining mystery film!

genre: crime, mystery, thriller

Roy Scheider and Meryl Streep in an old school whodunnit with Hitchcockian elements. So how does this fare today?

Pretty well actually. It's very atmospheric and even creepy at times. Certain scenes are quite tense and thrilling without having to resort to the usual tricks like loud music or blood and gore. Instead it plays in on the fears everyone can relate to who has been alone in a park or building late at night. There is even one remarkable scene where the characters of Jessica Tandy and Roy Scheider are discussing a dream his patient discussed with him. The way the dream is depicted and the interpretation of it is quite chilling and fascinating.  

But it's also Roy Scheider as Dr. Sam Rice. He is convincing as a psychiatrist who is compelled to solve the murder of his patient he had been treating for two years. But it's not without flaws. I can't stress enough the importance of red herrings. This thriller only has a few of them which minimizes the possibilties. It also neglects to give you clues and details to make you deduce for yourself who the killer is. In mystery films like these that is part of the fun. The lack of a truly creative motive for the killer also is a bummer. They took the easy way out and in a film where a lot of the usual thriller elements haven been stripped an interesting plot could have made the difference.

No one can deny that Meryl Streep is one of the best actresses in the world. However it is clear that she is out of her element and simply doesn't work as a femme fatale. Kathleen Turner for example would have done so much more. She also doesn't have any chemistry with Scheider. I think this must be one of her worst roles. That being said, a bad Meryl Streep still is better than what most generic actors can offer. 

Overall I think this is a flawed but very entertaining mystery film with many redeeming elements. Definitely worth your time. Especially very late at night or rainy days.

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