Sophie Farrell’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers!
To say that Frenzy was Hitchcock's penultimate film, you really wouldn't be able to tell. It doesn't feel like it was made by someone who had made 51 films prior to this. There is something about Frenzy that feels fresh, young and new. Frenzy marked Hitchcock's return to Britain and is one of his darkest films.
The plot is classic Hitchcock as it follows recently sacked barman Richard Blainey, brilliantly played by Jon Finch. Through a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, Blainey is accused of being a serial rapist and murderer known as the neck-tie murderer who is stalking around London. The film also follows Alec McGowen as Chief Inspector Oxford who leads the manhunt for Blainey. Finch plays Blainey as a flawed man. We learn things about him that make him quite unlikable at times but we still root for him to be believed. His portrayal of a wrongly accused man feels real and that's what gets him trust and sympathy from the audience.
Finch receives excellent support from a wonderful cast of British stars who may be unfamiliar to audiences outside of the UK. Barry Foster is fantastic as Blainey's friend and Anna Massey, Barbara Leigh-Hunt and Billie Whitelaw (in a small but very memorable role) are also wonderful. I especially love the shot where Whitelaw's character is introduced. From that one shot we know exactly what this woman is about and what her opinion on the situation at hand is. Jean Marsh as the secretary is also a highlight. She's so funny and the scene where she returns from her lunch to find something sinister waiting for her in her office is probably my favourite scene in the film. McGowen is wonderful as the inspector and the scenes between him and Vivien Merchant as the inspector's wife are delightful.
I find it quite strange that a director nearing the end of their career would make a film as dark and bleak as Frenzy but that's Hitchcock for you. Frenzy has a great script packed full of fantastic dialogue. It also manages to blend moments of humour with genuine, almost chilling, moments of suspence. There are loads of memorable scenes in this film from the potato van to the tracking shot down the stairs to the first rape scene that is so chilling and ghastly but you can't take your eyes away from the screen. Hitchcock, as usual, is on top form behind the camera. Every scene in Frenzy flows nicely and nothing feels like it goes on for too long. One thing that is very noticable in Frenzy is how much Hitchcock was willing to mix things up a bit and try new things with his direction. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks, eh?
Frenzy is a fantastic film that kept me invested through all of its nearly two hour runtime. From the moment it started I was hooked. Frenzy is a late career triumph for Hitchcock and one of his final masterpieces. An absolute gem from the Master of Suspence!