6 January 2005 | Libretio
Hair-raising shocker, based on true events
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 (Panavision)
Sound format: 6-track Dolby Stereo
(35mm and 70mm release prints)
A busy single mother (Barbara Hershey) is inexplicably targeted by a monstrous, invisible 'entity' which emerges from nowhere and begins to assault her on a regular basis.
Based on events recounted in Frank DeFelitta's bestselling book, Sidney J. Furie's compelling shocker takes all the dramatic liberties one might expect of a Hollywood production, though DeFelitta's script manages to establish a genuine conflict between intractable science (spearheaded by Ron Silver as Hershey's disbelieving psychiatrist) and open-minded parapsychology (led by warm-hearted Jacqueline Brookes). Furie uses dutch angles and vivid closeups to emphasize the human tragedy at the heart of the story, as Hershey struggles to come to terms with her fantastical situation, only to be torn between Silver's increasingly ludicrous 'rationalizations' (he concludes that her experiences amount to little more than a sublimated incestuous crush on her handsome teenage son, played by David Labiosa!) and the day-to-day reality of her encounters with paranormal forces. Thankfully, despite suggestions of Silver's romantic attraction to Hershey, director and screenwriter keep a tight rein on proceedings, stripping all non-essential business from the central narrative.
Giving one of her best performances, Hershey is deeply affecting as the simple woman caught up in extraordinary circumstances beyond her control, and Furie stages the various supernatural assaults with frightening intensity, underlined by Charles Bernstein's pounding music score which elevates proceedings to a whole new level of horror. Despite the sexual nature of the attacks, Furie resists an urge to indulge the audience's voyeurism, and aside from one brief nude scene (employing a fairly obvious body double) and a full-body appliance (courtesy of Stan Winston) to depict invisible fingers manipulating Hershey's torso, the film is quite restrained in its portrayal of this sensitive material. The climactic visual effects - supervised by William Cruse - are remarkably poor, but this minor blemish isn't enough to weaken the film's cumulative impact. Listen out for the entity's only line of 'dialogue', as creepy as it is obscene.