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Check out this underrated movie before it leaves (HBO) Max next week

Max, formerly known as HBO, has an impressive library of movies and shows that make it one of the best streaming services out there. The best movies on Max are a healthy mix offering everything a film aficionado could want, from classics produced during Hollywood’s Golden Age to modern superhero fare. October will see several great movies leaving the site, including the 1942 horror classic Cat People.

Directed by Jacques Tourneur, Cat People is among the most singular and striking horror pictures from the 1940s. The plot is surreal and often ridiculous, yet undeniably compelling. This underrated horror classic is daring, fascinating, and uncompromisingly unique, featuring a now-infamous performance from Simone Simon and a premise that walks a fine line between the riveting and the outright ridiculous. Movie lovers will probably have already seen it – some might consider it required viewing for anyone who considers themselves a cinephile. However, those who haven’t should absolutely give it a chance. So, if you’re looking for a spooky film to watch this Halloween season, why not try Cat People before it leaves Max on October 31?

The plot

Simone Simon as Irena Dubrovna in Cat People.
Image via Warner Bros.

Cat People features a deliciously outlandish plot that will doubtless raise eyebrows. The film follows Irena Dubrovna, a young Serbian fashion illustrator who meets and quickly marries marine engineer Oliver Reed (Kent Smith). Irena lives in fear, believing herself descended from an ancient tribe of “cat people.” She is convinced she will turn into a panther if sexually aroused.

Out of caution, her marriage with Oliver remains unconsummated, leading Irena to a psychologist while Oliver confides in his assistant, Alice (Jane Randolph). As his relationship with Alice progresses, Irena’s paranoia increases, revealing that there might be a terrifying truth to her fears.

Why You Should Watch

Simone Simon as Irena Dubrovna in Cat People.
Image via Warner Bros,

The film’s greatest strength is treating its plot with more dignity than anticipated. Cat People is stylish, confident, and even sobering, occasionally seeming more like a domestic drama than a horror picture. The dialogue occasionally brings it down, as does the unintentionally clumsy delivery by the cast. However, Cat People excels as a genuinely anxious thriller, if not necessarily a terrifying horror film. The film’s tense atmosphere is overt and effective, resulting in several off-putting sequences that will leave audiences uneasy.

Simon’s performance is another selling point. Although reception to her work remains polarizing, I confess myself a fan of her heightened approach. Her accent is atrocious, but there’s an admirable quality to her delivery; she is as subtle as a cat’s scratch, unnaturally delivering her lines and occasionally seeming to be acting in an entirely different movie. Yet, this works beautifully for her part. This is a woman who thinks she’s a panther, for crying out loud – of course, she’s going to be deluded!

Cat People (1942) Trailer - Row House Cinema

The truth is, Cat People is a mixed bag. But its supernatural tone paved the way for many future horror films that ventured into the inherently macabre side of folklore, from Rosemary’s Baby all the way to The Witch. It’s chilling, visually stunning, stressful, and unexpectedly tragic. Horror films are seldom more memorable than Cat People, an underrated triumph of the horror genre that deserves far more love and attention than it gets.

Watch Cat People on Max before it leaves on October 31.

Editors' Recommendations

David Caballero
David is a Mexican freelance writer with a deep appreciation for words. After three years in the cold world of Marketing…
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