Movie of the Week: The Red House

High school senior Nath Storm is hired by local farmer Pete Morgan to do chores. Pete has a prosthetic leg and his family thinks it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to have an extra hand with the harder work. Pete knows this is true, but pride will not let him admit to very much.

The old-timer lives on the farm with his sister, Ellen, and Meg, the young girl the siblings adopted and raised from infancy. Meg is a classmate of Nath, and she has more than a passing schoolgirl crush on him. Nath notices Meg, and he likes her, but he’s dating Tibby, who is not only considered the most beautiful girl in town, but gives the term “high maintenance” its definition. Tibby doesn’t like it too well that her boyfriend is working on the Morgan farm– not because she’s fearful Meg might snatch him away, but because it’s time out of the day that Nath could be spending doting on her. Tibby knows there’s no possible way her boyfriend would leave her for a simple farm girl.

Nath’s first afternoon working at the farm goes well. He has dinner with the Morgans and, when it is time to leave, he announces his decision to take a shortcut through Ox Head Woods since the weather seems to be blowing in a storm. This does not sit well with Pete. It doesn’t sit well with any the Morgans, actually. He is warned to stay clear of Ox Head Woods, it’s a bad place, a haunted place, and to especially stay clear of the Red House somewhere within the woods.

Nath, naturally, finds this to be a bunch of hogwash– he ain’t afraid of no ghosts, or whatever is in the woods. Ignoring the pleading of Meg and her family, he sets out on his shortcut. It’s dark, the wind is howling, the bridge is out, and things just don’t seem right in Ox Head Woods. Nath doesn’t see the Red House, but he hears what sounds like possible screams and decides Pete and company were correct in suggesting he avoid these here woods.

The young man runs all the way back to the Morgan farm and stays the night. His act of chickendom gnaws at him. He decides to go through the woods in the daylight so he knows the way. Sadly, when he travels through that night for home, he is attacked by an unknown assailant and beat with a club. Undaunted, though bruised, Nath, with Meg’s assistance (and very help from Tibby) sets out to solve the mystery of the Red House and what exactly is going on the woods.

I was only recently made aware of The Red House, I had never heard of it or the George Agnew Chamberlain novel from which it was adapted. It was completely by happy accident I discovered it on Amazon and thought I’d give it a try. If you’re in the mood for an atmospheric, Hollywood mystery from yesteryear, this is a good one. Watch it at night with the lights low, it’s perfecto.

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