Exposed to a strange possibly radioactive mist, Scott Carey begins to shrink to the size of an insect. Confounding doctors and evading is own cat, he must finally contend with the perils of being locked in his own basement.
A classic of ‘50s sci-fi paranoia, determinedly of the mind that dabbling with radioactivity is sure to be the end of us all, sees exposure to a contaminated mist shrink an average Joe to the size of a thimble.
What gives Jack Arnold’s adaptation of Richard Matheson’s famous novel such a neat kick, is the fact that besides his immediate dilemma, Grant William’s tiny hero never leaves his own home. Such everyday comforts as his own pet cat, climbing off a kitchen table, and the dusty confines of a basement, are transformed into a terrifying vertiginous world fraught with peril. A confrontation with a ‘giant’ spider, impressively realised, as are all the effects, for its day, has become one of the iconic image of the entire era.
Arnold’s great skill is in keeping the camera’s viewpoint that of his protagonist; the essential thrill is to envisage what it would be like to be ‘this’ high. And, with the assistance of Matheson’s fiction, attempt to ground the plot in a scientific plausibility. Not that it could happen, just that it sounds like it could.
Doctors decide he is shrinking care of an “anti-cancerous” condition, and manage to arrest the damage before he completely disappears. Grant Williams the overall conviction, by working the bitterness he feels in becoming a ‘little man’, having to live in a doll’s house — there is a cute subtext in the maintenance of masculinity. When finally abandoned, and thought dead, he must be man, no matter what height, and trawl for food and fend off predators. And in keeping with its serious mood, things end on something of a downer.
Whilst paranoid in a very 1950's way and a little downbeat at times this is very enjoyable.