Frenzy (1972)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Frenzy</strong> (1972)

(On DVD, November 2018) The early 1970s were a grim and depressing time for American cinema as filmmakers over-embraced the new freedoms of the post-Hays Code era and tried to reach younger audiences with what would have been unthinkable even a few years earlier. The Old Hollywood was gone and the New Hollywood featured grime, gore and nudity. Even old veteran Alfred Hitchcock got in the game in Frenzy, which remains the bloodiest and grimmest of his films. The story takes place in London, where a serial killer is stalking victims through a matchmaking service and framing our protagonist for the murders. As a premise, it’s standard Hitchcock fare. In execution, however, Frenzy plays harder and darker: There are two murders in the movie and while the first one is graphic and grisly and upsetting, the second one is far more muted and far more disturbing as the camera moves away from the crime and into a busy street with passersby unaware that something terrible is taking place right next to them. There is also nudity (rare in the Hitchcock oeuvre) and an overall grittiness that clearly marks this film as being from the 1970s. Frenzy is often described as Hitchcock’s last great movie and while I’ll be able to confirm this only once I see his last film (1976’s Family Plot), it does strike me as an above-average entry for him, and an intriguing glimpse at what kinds of movies he would have kept making had he had lived longer. But make no mistake: Frenzy is grim, and even its humour is more macabre than a relief.

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