Child in the House

Watch Child in the House

  • NR
  • 1956
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 6.1  (207)

Child in the House is a British psychological thriller from 1956, directed by Cy Endfield, and starring Phyllis Calvert, Eric Portman, and Stanley Baker. The film follows a troubled young girl named Elizabeth, who is sent to live with her aunt and uncle after her father passes away. Elizabeth's aunt and uncle, Marjorie and Henry, are a childless couple who run a publishing company together. At first, Elizabeth is grateful to be able to stay with them and gets along well with Marjorie. However, she quickly becomes resentful of Henry, who she sees as interfering and controlling. Elizabeth is a troubled child, prone to outbursts of anger, and it becomes clear that something is not quite right with her.

As the film progresses, tensions between Elizabeth and her new family grow. She begins to lash out, stealing things from the house and lying about her behavior. Meanwhile, Henry becomes increasingly suspicious of her, believing that she is up to no good. Elizabeth, for her part, becomes convinced that Henry is hiding something from her and is determined to find out what it is.

The film is a slow-burning psychological thriller, building tension as Elizabeth's behavior becomes increasingly erratic. Phyllis Calvert gives an excellent performance as Marjorie, conveying both her genuine affection for Elizabeth and her growing concern for her wellbeing. Eric Portman is equally good as Henry, capturing the character's unease and suspicion.

However, it is the young actress Mandy Miller who steals the show as Elizabeth. Miller, who was just ten years old at the time of filming, is absolutely mesmerizing as the troubled young girl. Her performance is both nuanced and chilling, conveying a sense of deep-seated anger and frustration that is unsettling to watch.

One of the film's strengths is its ambiguity. It is never entirely clear whether Elizabeth is genuinely disturbed or if she is simply reacting to the trauma of losing her father. There is a sense that something dark and unsettling is at work beneath the surface, but it is never fully revealed. This creates a palpable sense of tension that grips the viewer right until the film's haunting final moments.

Another strength of the film is its visuals. Child in the House is beautifully shot, with some striking use of light and shadow that adds to the film's atmosphere of unease. The iconic opening shot of the film, which shows Elizabeth walking down an empty street with a sense of purpose, sets the tone for the rest of the film, and Endfield's direction throughout is masterful.

Overall, Child in the House is a gripping and unsettling psychological thriller that deserves to be better known. Its exploration of childhood trauma and its effects on both children and adults is both nuanced and thought-provoking, and the performances from all involved are first-rate. Whether you are a fan of classic British cinema or simply enjoy a good thriller, this film is well worth seeking out.

Child in the House doesn't appear to be available from any streaming services.
Add this movie to your Watchlist to get notified when it's available.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.1  (207)