Macabre Little Tale from the Golden Age of Video-Taped Television
Written by ex-theater critic and writer Robert Muller, DORABELLA tells a nasty little of two young men (David Robb, Jeremy Clyde), who end up taking a journey with the eponymous heroine (Ania Marson). One of them, Walter (Clyde) falls in love with her; the other, Philip (Robb) feels that something wrong but cannot apparently intervene. After a series of increasingly frightening stops along the way, the three of them arrive at Dorabella's house and Philip eventually discovers her true identity; both she and her father (John Justin) have an insatiable desire for new victims.
Made at a time when most dramas were shot on videotape with filmed inserts, Simon Langton's production achieves much of its effect through adept camera-work; abrupt intercuts of close-ups of the characters' faces, sweeping pans of historically accurate interiors; and (best of all) shots where the camera swoops down from on high to ground level, following Philip's descent down the stairs leading to Dorabella's dining-room. The make-up effects are especially good, especially the use of whitened eyes in a close-up of Dorabella's father, denoting his other-worldly status.
By modern standards, "Dorabella" might seem rather slow in terms of pace, but there are compensations - Muller's literate and tightly structured script, a memorable performance from Clyde, whose transformation from well-to-do young man to mental and physical wreck is definitely worth watching; and a nice twist at the end, as Philip - who has been telling the story to an assembled company of elderly gentlemen headed by Sir Charles (Esmond Knight) reveals his true identity. Definitely worth a look.
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