23 March 2017 | Michael_Elliott
Well Made and Different Type of Horror Film
*** (out of 4)
After spending time away from home, Helen (Angela Pleasence) decides to return to her country estate and she brings along her friend Anne (Lorna Heilbron). It doesn't take too long for Anne to realize that there's some secret that Helen is hiding. As the film moves along we start to realize that there's something supernatural or psychological going on.
Director Joseph Larraz's SYMPTOMS is a film that was released to Cannes and got a few positive reviews but the film pretty much disappeared outside of that. Over the decades people spoke highly of the film but it was nearly impossible to actually find it. In truth, the majority of people had never even heard of it. With that in mind, it's rather shocking to see that the picture actually lives up to the hype.
This film contains elements of Polanski's REPULSION as well as Hitchcock's PSYCHO. The lead character is quite an interesting one because she's just so strange and has such a blank look to her eyes that you can just feel that something is haunting her. What makes the film work so well is that we don't know if she's really being haunted by something supernatural or if it is all in her mind. The director perfectly builds up a very strange atmosphere and the back and forth elements of what's really going on perfectly plays out.
The film also benefits to some shocking violence. Not shocking as in gory or over-the-top but instead it usually comes out of nowhere and catches you off guard. As I said, some of these seem influenced by the "shock" murders in PSYCHO but it plays out very well here. The performances are also quite good with Pleasence, the daughter of Donald, really shining in a very laid back and quiet role. I really thought she did a fabulous job at showing that damage this character has had done to her. Heilbron is also good in her supporting part as is Peter Vaughn.
SYMPTOMS isn't a shock fest or in-your-face and fast-paced horror movie. It takes its slow, sweet time building up the character, the atmosphere and the outcome. It's certainly not going to be a film to appeals to everyone but it's certainly well-made and entertaining.