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Janet (Jennie Linden) is having nightmares bad enough that she is sent
home from boarding school, accompanied by her sympathetic teacher Ms Lewis
(Brenda Bruce). At Janet's home, Ms Lewis learns about Janet's background:
She is the offspring of rich parents, but one fine day - Janet's eleventh
birthday actually -, her mum (Isla Cameron) went nuts and stabbed her dad,
right in front of the girl's eyes. Naturally, mum was committed to an
asylum immediately afterwards, and now Janet lives with John (George
A.Cooper) and Mrs Gibbs (Irene Richmond), the caretakers of her parents'
estate, with her parents' lawyer Henry (David Knight) - whom she has a
secret crush on - acting as her guardian. And then there's Grace (Moira
Redmond), whom Henry claims he has hired as a companion for the girl, but
she's really a nurse ... because you see, of late, Janet thinks she's
going crazy, just like her mum ...
Soon enough, Janet thinks she is seeing things, like a woman in white
(Clytie Jessop) suddenly showing up in her room and luring her to her
parents' old room, where the woman in white suddenly pops up dead, stabbed
just like Janet's father ... which is driving Janet more and more over the
edge ... until, on her seventeenth birthday, Janet receives a cake just
like the one she got to her eleventh, a cakeknife like the one her mum has
used on her dad is in place too, and Henry introduces his wife, whom Janet
has never seen before, to her - and she is the woman in white from her
hallucinations ... upon which Janet grabs a knife and stabs Henry's wife
dead, and in front of many witnesses too. There's no doubt about it now,
Janet is mad as a hatter ... and she's committed to a mental institution
... but of course (as always in these films), Janet isn't really mad,
it was all just a ploy of Henry and Grace to get rid of his wife and get
their hands on Janet's fortune, in what you might call a perfect crime ...
but is it ?
Soon enough, Grace gathers more and more evidence that Henry is
cheating on her, but nothing definite, and he's denying it, too (but then
again, he would ...), plus she doesn't feel at all comfy living in Janet's
old house, but Henry wouldn't have it any other way ... and soon enough,
Janet herself starts seeing things, like people moving through the house
and stuff, and soon enough, she thinks that Henry is playing the same
trick on her he played on Janet ... until she learns that Janet has
actually broken out of the asylum - which drives her so over the edge that
she at one point stabs Henry, with plans of blaming it all on escaped
Janet ... until she learns that Janet hasn't escaped at all but is getting
better by the hour, and everything was just an elaborate ploy by Ms Lewis,
John and Mrs Gibbs, who all loved and cared for Janet, to have Henry and
Grace pay for what they did to the young girl - and the plan was a total
On a script-level, Nightmare, obviously inspired by
Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1955 classic Les Diaboliques, could be
described as a small desaster: It's over-convoluted, it's utterly
unbelievable, it's totally predictable, and it's not really thought
through all that well. That said though, Nightmare still turns out
to be a quite enjoyable film, it's competently crafted, it's totally
atmospheric, it's full of tension and suspense, and it's very well-acted.
So yes, it's a completely watchable film, just don't think about the plot
too much ...