(1962, GB, 95 min, b/w) Dir Eric Conway Bryce. Cast Denholm Elliott, Janette Scott, Martin Stephens, Freda Dowie.
Superior chiller, like an MR James story for Christmas that was never written, and impeccably shot by Freddie Francis. Victorian schoolteacher Reginald Benway (Elliott) is assigned to Oldgrey’s college in the moor bound village of Hampton. The reception, as one would expect in such a film, is chilly. That night, as he sits on his bed, his head in his hands in despair, he makes out what seems to him to be a face in the floorboards made from the whorls in the wood’s grain. As time goes on things improve – he makes friends with one of his pupils, the lonely and awkward Alec (Stephens), and a relationship is tentatively begun with his fellow teacher, Miss Devonshire (Scott). Of course everything goes wrong after that, with false rumours being spread about his relationship with the boy and even Miss Devonshire begins to keep her distance. As his troubles mount each night the face in his bedroom floor changes and grows larger… This all plays out at a superbly measured pace, all leading to an end that’s all the more terrifying for its inevitability.