Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) has many bastard offspring—seemingly innumerable low-rent filmmakers have repurposed the concept of a serial killer with mommy issues preying upon pretty girls. One such copycat picture is Slipping Into Darkness, which adds a halfhearted Vietnam-vet angle as a means of suggesting why the main character is such a menace. To be fair, writer-director Richard Cassidy nearly balances character development and nastiness during a stretch in the middle of the film’s running time. So while Slipping into Darkness is too predictable and sluggish to generate real suspense, whenever Cassidy lingers on scenes of Grahame (Laszlo Papas) trying to connect with sexy coed Karen (Beverly Ross), he conveys a degree of empathy for Grahame’s social awkwardness without portraying Karen as standoffish. Alas, the material before and after this section is terrible. The movie gets off to a confusing start with scenes of Karen leaving the boonies to attend school in a big city. For no good reason, lots of time elapses before she takes a room in a boarding house operated by Mrs. Brewer (Belle Mitchell). The landlady’s son, Grahame, lives in a room down the hall from Karen, so he watches her through a peephole whenever she entertains male visitors. Things get more and more demented until, inevitably, Graham turns homicidal—but the plotting never works well enough to achieve the desired unsettling effect. It doesn’t help that Cassidy includes so many nudie shots of Ross that he seems like a voyeur. And even though Mitchell and Papas give somewhat offbeat performances (note the scene where she tells him not to buy any more cream donuts because they give her “the farts”), their work is insufficient compensation for the pointless narrative.
Slipping Into Darkness: LAME