BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Aug 27th, 2002 •

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(Elite Entertainment) 1981
93 mins / Rated ‘R’ / Aspect Ratio 1.85:1, enhanced for 16X9 screens

This one has a nightmares-come-true aspect that predates A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET but doesn’t explore the idea as cleverly, nor is it satisfying when all is said and done. On the way, however, it has its share of creepy suspense.

The heavy-handed direction of John (WATCHER IN THE WOODS) Hough doesn’t thrill me, but I applaud his casting, particularly of eerie women in the lead roles. Erin Flannery as Jennifer Cordel has eyebrows so overgrown toward the center as to suggest something satanic, or at least diabolically sexual. Kerrie Keane as newspaper editor Laura Kincaid is a mannequin-faced creep show all her own. We just don’t know how she’ll fit into the puzzle. John Ireland as the local, frazzled sheriff, towers above John Cassevetes physically. I never remembered him being so tall (or was Cassevetes short?). And Cassavetes, the master indie filmmaker, acquits himself curiously, with a periodic silly smile that looks ludicrous whenever he pulls it out of his bag of facial choices. He’s also unnecessarily grim and confused as the local doctor faced with a growing horror in his little rural town, dominating long takes that are long simply because he’s taking his time within them. Maybe he’s going after subtext, but if so, I never understood it. However, as physical props go, his eyebrows, like his daughter’s, are suggestive of devilishness. I’m going to assume that these father-daughter eyebrows were conscious choices on Hough’s part, the better to red-herring us with.

The film is compelling, right to the last frames. But afterwards, the questions begin to arise, and slowly but surely, starting with the last images, the narrative logic unravels, until finally, after you’ve thought about it for a while, nothing makes any sense. It’s the reason I didn’t think a plot summary was needed for this review: the whole film will decomposed before your eyes anyway. What need have you for plot in light of this?

John Cassavetes
Kerrie Keane
Erin Flanery
John Ireland.

Directed by John Hough.
Screenplay by George Franklin
From a novel by Ray Russell.
Director of Photography Albert J. Dunk.
Music by Stanley Meyers

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