As far as thrillers go, The Accursed is a good one, if a fairly standard one and if you can overlook a couple of flaws in the story such as the very beginning of the movie you will most likely enjoy it quite a bit. It is during the beginning of the film that Colonel Price receives a call from a Mr. Dehmel who has a message of grave import. But instead of giving this information over the phone, he insists he must give it in person to which Colonel Price agrees. Every year a meeting takes place amongst Colonel Price and his friends to remember their leader, a man who helped immensely in their resistance in France and who was then subsequently murdered. It is during this annual meeting that Colonel Price tells them that there is a traitor amongst them and that he or she will soon be rooted out.
It is here the second little break in reason happens, the first being the call on the phone. Not telling Price over the phone who the traitor is can be forgiven because as far as the viewer knows, Dehmel could have been pursued or some such and maybe did not have the time to do so. The second was simply a little ridiculous or a complete lack of judgement on the Colonel’s part because from that moment on when he revealed the knowledge of the traitor and that Dehmel would soon be there to point that person out, things would soon spiral out of control. While the culprit might have been found at some point throughout the night, a couple of American soldiers just happen to intervene and who also coincidentally, are investigating the death of the man who used to lead this group and it is here where the film gets back on track.
The movie is fairly suspenseful as it goes about its business, especially as it confines itself to only a couple of rooms in the house. It really gives it a claustrophobic feel, especially as you know that there is a murderer on the loose and that anything could happen at any moment. Michael McCarthy does a fairly good job with the script and direction and the slow-building tension manages to hold your attention throughout the picture’s length. Donald Wolfit is captivating as Colonel Price as is Robert Bray as the American investigator, Major Shane. The two play off of each other throughout most of the film and their verbal sparring about the subject of the murderer adds to the overall atmosphere and increases the anxiety within the house and the film. Jane Griffiths is good as the sole woman in the picture with Anton Diffring, Carl Jaffe, Karel Stepanek, Oscar Quitak, Frederick Schiller, Rupert Davies and John Van Eyssen in strong supporting roles. There is even a young Christopher Lee present playing Doctor Neumann, a man who is a suspect at one point and while the role is a small one, Lee manages to do a fantastic job of it.
In all, The Accursed, also known as The Traitor, is a pretty straightforward, average thriller, more for those Christopher Lee completists or for those that enjoy a good mystery. There is no reinvention of the wheel here and except for a couple of bumps in the road as it starts out; it manages to solidly entertain the viewer with some really good performances.
3 out of 5