The Uninvited (1944)
Directed by Lewis Allen.
Plot: A brother and sister move into an old seaside house they find abandoned for many years on the English coast. Their original enchantment with the house diminishes as they hear stories of the previous owners and meet their daughter (now a young woman) who now lives as a neighbor with her grandfather. Also heard are unexplained sounds during the night. It becomes obvious that the house is haunted. The reasons for the haunting and how they relate to the daughter whom the brother is falling in love with, prove to be a complex mystery. As they are compelled to solve it, the supernatural activity at the house increases to a frightening level.
Review: The Uninvited is one of the rare Hollywood ghost stories that does not cop out with a "logical" ending. In fact, the film has more in common with British ghost tales of the period in that the characters calmly accept spectral visitations as though they were everyday occurrences.
Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan le Fanu.
Published by Dublin University Magazine in 1864.
Blurb: In "Uncle Silas", Sheridan Le Fanu's most celebrated novel, Maud Ruthyn, the young, naïve heroine, is plagued by Madame de la Rougierre from the moment the enigmatic older woman is hired as her governess. A liar, bully, and spy, when Madame leaves the house, she takes her dark secrets with her. Then Maud is orphaned and sent to live with her Uncle Silas, her father's mysterious brother and a man with a scandalous, maybe even murderous, past. Once again, she encounters Madame and her sinister role in Maud's destiny becomes all too clear. With its subversion of reality and illusion, and its exploration of fear through the use of mystery and the supernatural, "Uncle Silas" shuns the conventions of traditional horror and delivers a chilling psychological thriller.
Review: A Victorian Gothic Mystery-Thriller, this novel is one of the earliest and most notable examples of the 'Locked room mystery' sub genre. It does not delve into the supernatural but it isn't any less creepy because of that. The story, like all good gothic ones, is atmospheric and claustrophobic to its best, you feel the sense of danger and worry about Maud, the seventeen-year-old protagonist. Another great bonus of the book is that it is obviously catered to a Victorian readership and presents a very clear picture of the moral values and fears of the time. Though the scandals at the core of "Uncle Silas" won't scandalize anyone with our modern sensibilities, it is of great interest to realize what it took to rock the Victorian society to its core. Do not miss this jewel.