89 min., 1971
Written by Ralph Rose/Norman Jonas
Directed by John Hancock
My rating: ★★
Too uneven to be a classic.
* * *
The movie begins with a woman in a boat giving a voiceover talking about how it’s strange that all of it happened. We then jump back to the beginning of what she was talking about. Her name is Jessica (Zohra Lampert) and she is going with her husband Duncan (Barton Heyman) and their friend Woody (Keving O’Connor) to their newly bought home that is continually called the Old Bishop Place. Jessica and Duncan have decided to move because Jessica has been seeing a doctor (for a never explained reason) and Duncan thinks that getting away from the city is a great idea. They get to the place and Jessica is already seeing things, including a woman in a chair and a woman in white. They enter the house and she sees someone at the top of the stairs, luckily so did Duncan. They find a woman, Emily (Mariclare Costello) who has been squatting in the house for a while. The next day they ask her to stay even though Jessica is hearing voices telling her that Emily wants Duncan for herself. As time moves along Jessica sees more strange things and Duncan gets an unwelcoming from the locals. Is it all in Jessica’s head or is there something more sinister going on?
The acting in the movie is pretty good all around, with the exception of Zohra Lampert. Don’t get me wrong, I think that she actually can act and she does a good job in the movie but the biggest problem is that her acting doesn’t feel like it belongs in this movie. As stated before, she was seeing a doctor for something and throughout the movie she is seeing things and hearing voices in her head, but the problem is that the way she is acting is more like an adult that has never grown up. She is consistently acting like a child, from the look on her face and the way she moves to the way she throws a temper tantrum. So she is actually pretty good, but her acting doesn’t fit the role. The rest of the cast were good especially Mariclare Castello. From the get go you know that there is something off about her but she does a good job of playing innocent and then when she lets out her dark side she does it with not a single glitch.
The movie had very few effects so instead I will talk about the use of sound and music. From the get go the music lets you know that something isn’t quite right and even when there is nice music playing there is an underlying creepiness to it. There are a few times where the music is quite intrusive but for the most part it is used very well. The thing that surprised me the most is the use of sound. There are numerous layers of sound going on at the same time and sometimes there are sounds that you hear and question if you actually heard them. One great example of this is when they are approaching the island by boat and as they are about to dock you hear a faint scream, but was it really there or did they make good use of nature and animal sounds? My other favorite use of sound is when Duncan goes back into town, the music is playing but throughout there is this loud high-pitched whine consistently piercing your ears. It’s a very nice way to put people off their guard.
Now there are a few things about the movie that really brought down my enjoyment of it. For one, the character of Jessica, I couldn’t wrap my head around what was wrong with her and how she was acting. Second, it is brought up at least twice in the movie that all of the people in town are wearing bandages. The biggest problem with that is that I saw absolutely no bandages. That is a big thing to overlook and that really hurt the movie in my eyes. Third, and as I have stated in past reviews this is a pet peeve of mine, I hate it when you have people playing musical instruments and it’s painfully obvious that they have no idea what they are doing. This includes music playing and they are strumming at the completely wrong time. There are even times where the music is going and they stop moving their hands. Lastly and probably the biggest, I didn’t care for any of the characters. There was no connection between any of them and all of them could have died and I wouldn’t have batted an eyelash, because I just didn’t fucking care.Have You Read...?