Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Unfriendly Ghost: The Entity

Ghosts can do crazy things.  They can scare us by shaking windows, throw dishes around the room or just amuse Michael J. Fox with their antics.  However, what happens when ghosts get...naughty?  This question was answered in 1982's The Entity, one of many horror films based on novels.  There was a big trend for this in the late '70s and early '80s.  It's no surprise, given the success of films like The Amityville Horror.  Will this be another example of why this trend was a good one or just be another Night of the Lepus?  Get out your giant liquid helium tanks for my review of...
The film begins with a woman coming home and doing all of her errands (i.e. putting the dishes away, etc).  When she settles in for the night, an unseen person attacks her in her room...sexually.  We don't see much, but you can figure out what happens.  When it is over, she screams 'bloody murder,' awaking her kids and sending the teen son running around looking for an assailant.  When nobody can be seen, the woman insists on fleeing the house, but forgets her keys.  When she goes back inside, windows shake and all that.  They end up at a friend's house, a woman who never really asks too many questions.  She gets confused when her friend says that she was raped and then says that 'nobody' attacked her.  After a day away from the house- with no explanation as for the consequences of this- they return home, only for her to be attacked again when she gets there.  It gets even worse as her car is taken over by a ghost, causing her to careen through traffic at break-neck speeds!  She finally is convinced to go see a psychologist (Ron Silver) who explains to her some Freudian mumbo-jumbo.  Basically, he says that it's all in her head due to traumatic past memories coming to the surface.  The argument proves less logical as the film goes on.
Since Silver makes silly jokes, she continues to see him, despite evidence in favor of her.  This comes very clear when she is attacked while taking a bath in her house.  She shows up the next day with bruises and marks all over her extremities.  Naturally, he continues to tell her that it's all in her head.  He explains some bullshit about how people make up stories about dragons and leprechauns to explain their carnal desires.  Yeah, what is your degree in again?  He convenes a meeting with other people in the college's Psychology Department and they are all convinced that she is crazy.  Yes, she totally did those marks on herself.  When she returns home from this, she sets up a nice ice cream treat for the whole family.  Given this cheery set-up, it's only natural that the ghost again rapes her, this time in front of her two young daughters and teenage son.  The boy tries to help her, but gets shoved away several times.  Eventually, it decides to pump him full of lightning before pumping her full of something else.  Before you say that I'm crass, I should point out that there is a bit of dialog where Silver asks the woman if the ghost 'ejaculated in her.'  No, really.  She spends some time with her friend, only for the ghost to smash the living room up mere minutes after the others left.  Now, finally, someone believes her.
As luck- or lazy screen-writing- would have it, the woman runs into some Parapsychologists at a book store. They see evidence of what's happening and decide to make it their main priority.  Meanwhile, Silver tries to talk to her, but she ignores him.  I'd ignore the guy whose advice led to me being raped at least three times too!  The group sets up a bigger study in her house and witnesses the ghost making more lightning, although it's sound and fury signifying nothing.  Happy that the ghost is not powerful anymore, the woman brings the kids back and gets even happier when her constantly-away fiancée returns.  They get ready for a night of 'loving,' only for the man to find the woman naked on the bed being groped by a ghost.  I'd be more freaked out if that wasn't clearly a model of her body!  Silver tries to help her still, continuing to blame her 'psyche' for this.  God, you're dumb.  She agrees to be part of a set-up study by the Parapsychologists which involves her living in a house frame as bait.  However, the ghost takes over their machinery...somehow and tries to kill her by spraying the liquid helium at her.  The tanks explode and Silver saves her, leaving the ghost trapped...for about ten seconds.  It escapes the rear projection effect and haunt our heroine.  The End.  Yes, it ends like that.
This movie is...well, decent.  In concept, it's a really unique film that tackles a subject that many films have shied away from.  In practice, the movie is unevenly-paced and a bit too long.  There are a few too many attacks and way too many 'Silver telling her that she's crazy' scenes.  We get it!  On top of that, there's never really any pay-off to the Silver plot.  We don't get a 'I'm sorry- I was wrong' scene or even a 'This just proves my point scene.'  He saves her and...they don't talk again.  How did the situation get resolved?  According to the film's closing narration, it didn't.  She just moved to Texas and 'to this day' gets attacked on occasion.  She's a bigger target for sexual assault than Ashley Judd!  Given that the ghost angle is never resolved, I have to wonder how she didn't end up in a Sanitarium.  She does still say that she's being raped by a ghost, after all.  That's the problem here- a lack of commitment.  Unlike the Amityville series, they don't resort to just making shit up.  Their awkward mix of 'this is real' and 'this is a film' is their downfall.  If you haven't seen this film, it is visceral and has some intense moments.  It just has a lack of commitment that holds it back from immortality.  By all means, check it out.
Next up, a low-budget horror film about another childhood mainstay.  Will this one be worth a dollar under my pillow or much more?  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. The basis of this experimental short film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unw8YYKYZPQ from the "Experiments in Terror" Dvd