The Nightcomers is one of those atmosphere-drenched thrillers in which a semblance of surface decorum and respectability hides a multitude of aberrations beneath. This one, penned by Michael Hastings and inspired by the characters in Henry James’ The Turn of the screw, has a hand-tailored starring appearance by Marlon Brando.
Two recently-orphaned children live alone on a British country estate with their nurse, a housekeeper and a gardener, Quint. It’s the last-named (played by Brando) who fascinates the boy and girl to such a degree that his instinctive actions, mysterious manners, home-spun philosophising becomes their (only) guide and lifeline.
His sado-carnal affair with the otherwise prim and bourgeois nurse, glimpsed in fleshly violent action by the fascinated boy, is similarly aped by youngsters, as are other aspects of couple’s love-hate relationship which, in their unknowing innocence, they adopt and idealize. When the housekeeper decides to fire both nurse and gardener, the children plot to keep them together – forever – by killing them both.