The Red House (1947), was directed by Delmer Daves.
This little movie intertwines a thriller theme, a coming-of-age story, and a love story between two teenagers. Meg lives on a farm with her adoptive father Pete and her aunt Ellen. All she knows about her own parents is what Pete has told her: That they had "moved away" when she was a baby and left her with him. Though the three live in harmony, Pete is strangely protective of Meg and Ellen and does not allow them to socialize much with other people. Thus, the family lives secluded, and Pete is reluctant to even hire a ranch hand to help him run the farm.
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Meg, who loves and respects Pete, worries that he might overwork himself without any help and decides to look for someone who could help her father out on the ranch for the summer. Meg persuades her highschool pal Nath to come with her after school to meet her father and ask him for work. Pete agrees to hire Nath after some hesitation.
But fearless Nath has an independent mind, and his presence on the farm begins to have an influence on everyone. While Ellen and Meg delight in being around Nath, tensions arise between him and Pete, who is used to being the sole unquestioned authority at home. In particular, Nath disobeys Pete's general order that no one at the farm is to set foot into the wood that belongs to the farm. Pete becomes frantic when Nath decides to take a shortcut through there on his way home and tries to scare everyone with stories about mysterious voices and a haunted red house located in there. This only increases the teenagers' curiosity. Together, they start exploring the area.
When Meg first encounters the mysterious red house in the woods she notices that it has obviously been abandoned for quite some time. She does not see any ghosts or hear voices; however, she has a strange feeling that she has seen the place before. Meg begins to ask Pete uncomfortable questions about her past and her own parents to which Pete gives only vague answers. As Meg and Nath become closer and Pete's authority over Meg is waning, things begin to deteriorate at home. Pete fires Nath and bans him from his property; and he confines Meg to the house like a prisoner to watch over her. Unbeknownst to Meg and Nath, he hires a private guard with orders to shoot at any person that is seen inside the wood.
Naturally, this makes it extremely dangerous for anyone from the farm to enter the wood for whatever reason, and we may expect at least some innocent person to be eventually shot or even die as a consequence of Pete's decision. At the same time, Pete's increasingly frantic behavior concerning the wood gives rise to many obvious questions that occur not only to Meg and Nath but to the audience as well. If Pete is so frantic about someone entering the wood and, in particular, about visiting the red house then possibly he has something to hide. And perhaps it has to do with Meg's parents… But in the end it is Pete himself who gradually betrays his dark secret, overtaken by his own conscience and increasing emotional instability.
The review of this Movie prepared by Dorothea Lotter