Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Entity (1981)

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BE WARNED! SPOILERS LURKING BELOW!

Carla Moran (Barbara Hershey) has a tough life. Poor, raising a family of three by herself and trying to put memories of abusive men (including her father) behind her, Carla finds her sanity itself being threatened by an unseen force in her home. The Entity is genuinely gripping but founders in the third act.

After telling a friend about the merits of Paranormal Activity (which I'll write about another time), he recommended The Entity, which I'd never viewed before. I can't really compare the two; they are very different films with similar subject matter. However, I couldn't help but be reminded of Speilberg's Poltergeist, filmed slightly later than The Entity.

The Entity can almost be seen as a much darker version Poltergeist. In both films, we're told the story of a family suddenly being assaulted by unseen, malavolent forces in an otherwise normal suburban setting. In The Entity, the attacks are centered on Hershey's Carla. Repeatedly raped, beaten and attacked by the evil force in her home, Carla begins to question her sanity and the nature of her reality. Eventually, she convinces a group of doctors to believe her incredible story and to help her.

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Director Sidney J. Furie depicts Carla Moran as a tough, independant woman struggling to make a better life for herself and her family. Hershey's Carla is fully alive. I found myself pulling for Carla and empathizing with her bizarre plight. I enjoyed The Entity chiefly because of the caliber of the actors involved. Ron Silver (Dr. Phil Sneiderman) also turned in a noteworthy performance as Carla's psychiatrist. Sneiderman is initially torn between his earnest desire to help Carla and his knee-jerk reaction to dismiss her story. Complicating matters is his growing feelings for Carla (although that may be just my interpretation).

The Entity has the dubious distinction of it's traumatic assault scenes. These were disturbing on a visceral level and I found them almost unwatchable. Like the rape scene of Last House on the Left though, they were necessary to advance the plot. Be warned, sensitive viewers will be troubled. The "musical sting" that accompanies the entities attacks were really frightening, punctuating the terror depicted.

So, what was all that about falling apart at the end? Just that; The Entity outstays it's welcome and the scenes of the scientists attempting to trap the entity just didn't ring true. And, of course, the requisite "Hollywood" ending felt like a letdown.

Other than that, The Entity is a great film, sort of a psychological thriller with paranormal terrors.

Toolshed verdict? 8/10 mysterious noises under the house.

2 comments:

  1. Love this film. Still has the ability to scare. Not dated at all.

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