The Entity (1982)
Based on a true story....that isn't over yet.
October continues. We've done the undead, we've done cryptid-like legends, we've passed aliens from outer space turning our own dead against us, what could be left? Well, as much as I'd like to take full credit for this weeks movie choice, I can't do so while being entirely honest. No, that distinction goes to a Blastr article I read pertaining to a 'tops' list from their popular show Ghost Hunter's T.A.P.S. team. Seeing as this is one of the few on their list of movies that I hadn't watched, I figured we might as well add straight-up dead (or maybe extra-dimensional?) to the list of haunts for this October. Will you quake in fear over this dramatization of events that, as far as sources can tell, are actually based on true events?
We'll get this out of the way - this movie will be hard to watch (or unwatchable) for some people - not because of poor acting, cheap cinematography, or silly plot - no, this one might just not settle well with some of the population. You see, it's not just a ghost story, or some fanciful romp through haunt-world with jump scares everywhere - nay, this deals with a topic that will actually be far more human and sinister than most movies could actually try to. Rape. Yes, the events may seem more far-flung or impossible than the normal case, but at it's heart numerous times this comes up during this movie, and that might make some uncomfortable. The fact these are actually events that came from accountable real world events (unlike a lot of movies) will only serve to make that even more uncomfortable for some.
Our story doesn't take long to kick off. A single mother returns home from a long busy day, only to be assaulted by something she can't see in the safety of her own bedroom. Her eldest son comes running to her defense when he hears her screams, but it's already vanished - and couldn't have been seen to begin with. While the mother tries to comfort her now crying daughters, the son sweeps through the house checking every bathroom and closet, door and window to find absolutely nobody around and nothing out of place. Convincing the youngest that their mom was just having a nightmare, they all try to settle back in for the night when the mother once again start to experience strange things - more akin to an earthquake this time around. Having none of it after what just happened to her, she gathers her kids and they all take off to a friends house.
Eventually, after more incidents, the mother seeks the help of a doctor (psychologist), who is convinced it's all in her head. With some scientific jargon, he insists the problem is in fact her and some deep seated issues that she has to realize and come to peace with in order to get over the issue. Of course, things only get worse even as the doctor continues to preach how it's all in her head - even after her son's arm is broken and her friend's entire apartment ends up getting trashed as though a hurricane ripped through it before their eyes. Sick of her seemingly ignorant doctor, she seeks the help of books on the occult and the likes in a store where she comes across two paranormal investigators from the local university. Overhearing their conversation, she enlists their help to try and rid herself of this thing that is haunting her nights within her own home.
Actors do a great job here - considering how rough some of this stuff had to be to shoot, that's gotta say something. It's also to the merit of the actors that I can successfully say that regardless of the fact that the doctor is in fact trying to help the mother in the best way he can, he comes off as a total jerk you really don't like him by the end of the movie. The family dynamic plays off quite well, even though the younger daughters don't have much in the ways of lines or parts - outside of being asleep in most instances. Considering we never actually see the main villain of the movie, to say it's presence isn't felt would also be a bit of an understatement.
Audio goes quite the ways to make that happen. The only song I recall playing throughout this entire movie in fact sounds like it belongs more in an action movie as opposed to this, but somehow it works incredibly well. Maybe it's the fact that it gets the adrenaline running a bit before anything happens, making you ready and aware that somethings going to go down, or maybe it's just that slightly off-balance feeling it gives you by not quite feeling as though it belongs. Actor dialogue is well balance though, and outside of a few whispered moments it's pretty easy to hear what you need or want to hear.
Effects work is a strange mix here. On the one hand, it's done incredibly well- but at the same time, the absence of effects can be just as effective in some of the scenes. Little things - such as the shaking of objects or the way they show pressure upon the mother to make it look like fingers - are when the effects work is at it's finest, competing with the actors just doing an incredible job of acting against things that aren't there (such as being thrown or pushed around by the entity). When they start to hit their worst is as we draw close the the climax, jumping from decent looking electricity to a strange giant ice cube of sorts. I've still witnessed far worse effects out there than a giant ice cube though, and they still work fine within the movie. How it's shot is just as helpful to conveying the feeling of things as well, often times being framed in such a manner as to be claustrophobic and tight in, adding to the unease.
Without a doubt this isn't a movie I can recommend to everyone, but for those I could recommend it to I'd have to admit that it's a good thrill. The fact that it can actually be held accountable as a dramatization of real events only helps cement the chill in your spine over the horrendous things this woman had gone through, and the fact the actors do such a wonderful job really helps you get immersed in what you are watching. The music kicks in and you just know without a doubt, something is going to happen. Although I wouldn't argue over whether the film is actually scary or not to the audience, I can't deny the fact that there is true horror within it's story, and handles it's more sensitive matter with a respectable hand - enough to make a person uneasy while watching it. I fully understand why it made those Ghost Hunters list, and I'm certainly glad that I saw it.