“I’m telling you there was a presence in that house!”
A recently married couple (Margot Kidder and James Brolin) move with Kidder’s three kids (Natasha Ryan, K.C. Martel, and Meeno Peluce) into a house tainted by the murders of its last inhabitants at the hands of their own son. A priest (Rod Steiger) attempting to ‘purify’ the house begins experiencing mysterious symptoms, while Brolin becomes increasingly obsessed by chopping wood; the family’s dog barks incessantly at the basement; and Ryan develops an invisible imaginary friend who tells her about the house’s past.
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “adaptation of Jay Anson’s ‘fact’-based book isn’t nearly as ‘convincing’ or as much fun”. He notes that while the “two leads try hard, [the] material becomes increasingly stupid”, and that the “filmmakers were hampered by [the] fact that nothing really terrible happened to the Lutzes during their tenure”. Indeed, while there’s atmosphere to spare, the storyline is painfully slow, and neither Kidder (wearing kid-like piggy tails) nor Brolin (menacingly one-note) is particularly sympathetic. Peary rags on Rod Steiger for giving “what may be the worst performance in horror-movie history”, arguing that he’s “incredibly awful”, but I can’t agree; I think Steiger’s sincere performance is simply misplaced in a film that asks him to become hysterical without good enough cause. Several sequels followed, and the film was remade in 2005, though I haven’t seen that version.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Effectively atmospheric cinematography
- Lalo Schifrin’s score
No; skip this one unless you’re curious.