Starved for intimacy, Oliver starts hanging around with Alice, a coworker who pities and has fallen in love with him. She starts to notice strange sounds following her home at night and hears the muffled growl of a panther. In one fabulous scene, Alice goes for a late-night swim in the basement of her apartment building. As she prepares herself we hear the low growl of a panther, whose shadowy presence is blended with the shadows of the water on the walls, and whose sounds are muffled by the screams of a terrified Alice, who is treading water in the center of the pool. When the desk clerk and janitor come running to Alice's aid, they turn on the lights, and there stands Irena, who apologizes for scaring Alice and leaves. Alice gets out of the pool and finds that her bathrobe has been ripped to shreds.
Though the acting may be stiff and the plotline somewhat childish, Tourneur's Cat People effectively evokes a sense of the danger in sexual desire.
[Originally published in October, 2002.]
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