Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spectral Violation

Director: Sidney J. Furie
Writer: Frank De Felitta
Starring: Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, David Labiosa
1981 | United States | R | 125 mins

Some of the most haunting films in the history of horror cinema, no pun intended, deal with spirits or ghosts or possession. The ChangelingThe ExorcistPoltergeistThe Legend of Hell House, and on and on. The idea of something we cannot see invading our lives is something truly frightening, and something we've all over-thought about on more than one sleepless night. In Culver City, California in 1974, two scientists interested in paranormal phenomena came across Doris Bither in a bookstore, and Doris indicated to them that not only was her home being invaded by some unknown entity, but it physically attacked her and her children, and most frightening of all, she'd calimed to have been raped by it. This unbelievable and supposed true story would become the basis for Frank De Feliita's fictionalized take on the events in both his novel and adapted film, The Entity.

Carla Moran (Barbara Hershey), a single mother with three children, is struggling to keep her family fed when one night she becomes victim to an unseen attacker. Thrown on the bed and physically abused, Carla is at first convinced by her son that it was just a dream. But soon Carla is attacked again in front of her family and even raped by the invisible terror. Convincing herself she's not going crazy, Carla sees a psychiatrist (Ron Silver) who cannot comprehend the idea of 'spectral rape' and is determined it's all a manifestation of past abuse. With the help of a group of paranormal scientists, Carla tries to prove her sanity and be rid of the abusive demon for good.

The Entity is a truly frightening ghost story. The idea of a physically abusive manifestation of spectral energy is extremely scary, and the fact that spectral rape may exist is even more disturbing. Barbara Hershey is both strong and fragile as Carla Moran and the scenes of her abuse and rape by the entity are haunting, terrifying, and profoundly disturbing. Sidney J. Furie's direction is taut and tense and the film doesn't waste time at developing terror. Stephen H. Burum's cinematography is both claustrophobic, off kilter, and always exudes a sense of danger and possibility of invasion that always leaves the viewer on the edge of their seat. And to add more fuel to the fire, Charles Bernstein's repetitive and driving guitar-heavy score is so effective it exudes the feeling of violence and abuse that makes each scene difficult to watch, yet impossible to turn away.

Whether or not the claims to the original case of Doris Bither are 100% true (her son Brian Harris claims they are) The Entity is a truly haunting take on a real life ghost story that is far scarier than any fictional ghost story Hollywood has yet told. Although the film's third act falters heavily and loses most of the true sense of terror and dread, The Entity is still one of the scariest movies ever made. Powerful performances, a pulse-pounding score, and true unseen terror culminate in a film that will have you shivering and thinking afterwards, and will likely have you lose some sleep over. Don't watch this one alone!

All contents copyright 2010 Tyler Baptist

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