Based on the play by Frederick Knott (Dial M for Murder), Wait Until Dark tells the story of Suzy Hendricks (Hepburn). Recently blinded, she is trying to come to grips with her new life. Living in a basement apartment with her husband, she spends her days navigating the claustrophobic confines of her home or at classes.
Little does she know that when her husband leaves for work, a trio of ruthless crooks are waiting to infiltrate their apartment to locate a consignment of heroin her hubby unknowingly brought into the country, concealed in a child's doll.
Slowly realising that the sudden stream of visitors are up to no good, Suzy has to figure out a way to defeat these evil men before they kill her.
His vicious, mocking performance is the perfect complement to Hepburn -- he offsets the easy comfort of the veteran star's presence, turning what could have been a gimmicky thriller into something more unpredictable and unsettling.
Hepburn and Suzy are trapped in a movie they are not built for, and so watching the character struggle comes with an added meta-textual punch.
Wait Until Dark was directed by Bond alum Terence Young. A fine, underrated director, he brings a palatable sense of claustrophobia and danger to the film that prevents it from feeling as stage-bound as Hitchcock's adaptation of Knott's previous stage thriller Dial M for Murder.
A coarser, more visceral filmmaker than Hitch, Young creates a movie that feels far more modern than its pedigree would suggest. Once the cast is whittled down to Roat and Suzy, the movie suddenly feels extremely unsafe.
As heroine and villain scrabble around the darkened apartment, the movie begins to feel like the meeting point between the Gaslight-style thrillers of Old Hollywood, in which female stars were menaced by unseen intruders, and the more explicit thrillers and horror films of New Hollywood.
The last 20 minutes of Wait Until Dark is a masterpiece of escalating tension and false flags. Every time it feels like the story is heading into the home stretch, another obstacle lurches into view. It is excruciating.
While this year's Don't Breathe flipped the premise on its head, it cannot match the slowly escalating dread of Wait Until Dark. Featuring a great story, superb direction and a cast at the top of their game, it is an old-school thrill ride that never feels old school. Watch it with the lights out.