Frequently termed as Alfred Hitchcock’s first film (he had in fact directed two films before), The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog opens with a crowd all staring in shock at the sight of a murdered fair-haired woman, as a marquee proclaims “TO-NIGHT GOLDEN CURLS”. This woman is the latest victim of a callous, masked murderer known as The Avenger. This latest killing sends shockwaves through the streets of London, many women choosing to cover their heads for fear of resembling this latest victim. Supermodel Daisy Bunting is one of the few audacious enough to dismiss the case as rubbish, and she returns, head uncovered, to her loving family and policeman boyfriend. But when a tall, dark stranger comes to stay and catches Daisy’s eye, a series of coincidences are too much for him to be exempted from questioning.
Considering its place in Hitchcock’s epic oeuvre, The Lodger is a surprisingly impressive murder-mystery. The premise is simple enough, echoing the furore regarding the elusive Jack The Ripper (a mystery that still survives to this day). Title cards are bizarrely decorated with simple concentric triangles, almost in homage to some of the early Dada films, such as Symphonie Diagonale. Hitchcock also appears to have seen enough German Expressionist horror films to have picked up a few techniques, but the pace here is remarkable, constantly repeating elements from the surreal opening sequence throughout the film. Some shots impede the flow, but others make you wonder why this film isn’t better known.