The Daily Texan month of horror: Wait Until Dark

Sarah-Grace Sweeney

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today we picked “Wait Until Dark.”

I’m incredibly easy to scare  —  just walk up behind me and say “boo” if you want proof. As such, I’ve watched maybe five horror movies in their entirety, but leading lady Audrey Hepburn compelled me to watch 1967’s “Wait Until Dark.”

In “Wait Until Dark,” Sam (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) and Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn) acquire a doll unknowingly filled with heroin. However, three crooks just so happen to be after that same doll. When Sam leaves for a business trip, the crooks, Mike, Carlino and Roat (Alan Arkin) hatch an elaborate scheme to get into the Hendrix house and get the doll back. Posing as a friend of Sam’s, a policeman and an old man, the three take advantage of Suzy’s blindness to infiltrate her home. But with the help of her neighbor Gloria, Susy realizes the three men are tricking her and may actually try to harm her.

The beginning of “Wait Until Dark” is slow, as the audience knows all along that Susy is being tricked. But once she becomes aware of her own grave danger, the film intensifies quickly, with subtly-creeping moments stacking up. Though the film lacks gory displays of violence, the threat of the three thugs lurking inside Susy’s home — invisible to her — is scary enough.

Hepburn gives a deeply sympathetic performance as Susy, and she was deservedly nominated for an Academy Award for her role. She brings cleverness and strength to Susy, who, upon realizing she’s in danger, unscrews every light bulb in the apartment, forcing her attackers to maneuver the apartment in the same darkness she permanently inhabits.

Arkin, however, is a strange choice for a sadistic killer. For first time viewers of “Wait Until Dark,” it’s hard to see him as anything but the quirky grandpa of “Little Miss Sunshine.” Even in this villainous role, Arkin is a bit goofy and cranky, much like Grandpa Edwin. 

For people wary of horror films, “Wait Until Dark” is a great place to start. Fans of classic romances like “Roman Holiday” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” will find Hepburn’s performance surprisingly enjoyable, but the classic home invasion aspect makes it just scary enough for our month of horror films.