Entity, The (1981)

Author: Josh G.
Submitted by: Josh G.   Date : 2009-10-12 13:16

Directed by: Sidney J. Furie
Written by: Frank De Felitta (novel and screenplay)
Starring: Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver and David Labiosa

Reviewed by: Josh G.

Based on a true story...that isn't over yet.

Any person who has been raped can tell you that it is a traumatic ordeal to go through, that it will constantly remain in the back of your mind. But what if your attacker cannot be seen, and the attacks occur on a nightly basis? Meet Carla Moran, a fictional character based on the real life person Doris Byther, who claimed to be frequently attacked by an unseen force in the 1970s. The events that took place were witnessed at times by over twenty people, and the phenomena continues to spark debate about what we really know about fantasy and realityís thin line. Dorisí story was adapted into a book, and later a feature length film with the newly invented heroine Carla Moran of The Entity. What appears to be just another ghost or haunting film at first actually sinks deeper into a realm that makes people rethink the way they have looked at the supernatural in the past.

Single mother Carla (Barbara Hershey) Moranís life is turned upside down when she is raped in her bedroom one night by a man she cannot see, forcing her family and her own self to reevaluate her mental health. When it happens multiple times later, Carla seeks the help of a friend-recommended psychiatrist Phil Sneiderman (Ron Silver) who refuses to buy into the crazy tale of a ghost invading the Moran house. When bumps and bruises begin to appear all over her body, Carla realises that she needs help from another source and gathers a team of parapsychologists from the university to witness what her son and two daughters have been forced to watch. In a battle between the mortal and the unknown, what is referred to as The Entity, a select group of people will be horrified, enlightened, and disbelieved when they have to come to grips with a force that defies science. Something that was once thought to be a creation of medieval mensí minds now manifests itself in the true present moment.

When I picked up The Entity at a bookstore for a mere five bucks a few months ago, I had no idea that it would be such a packed surprise. I usually assume that a movie about a ghost molestation is a sleazy and shlock-filled low budget turd. And nine times out of ten, that is probably what youíd end up getting. But the well financed and well acted feature we have here stays with you beyond the credits, and it doesnít even use a left-field ending to startle you either. Through the pulsing electric guitar hard beat that appears when the entity appears, the ferociousness of the attacks and the smarter characters that have already sorted out the throwaway unrealistic reactions, we experience an authentic chiller classic that uses no blood or gore, but stylish and scary sequences.

With the mystery of what exactly is stalking Carla, thereís more to play with and more to be spooked by. What you know has worked in the past with defeating poltergeists is a little more tricky here with the unexplained apparitions. What we do see is a clever approach near the closing of The Entity that however unlikely, is an example of using the brain to create something fresh like youíve never seen before. Since 1981, audiences have certainly been exposed to similar tales, but this one still holds its own even today. I noticed early in the movie that the camera angles have a special dark charisma to them, where a mirror shaking or a person being jolted across the room takes higher flight than if a simple frozen shot were to be set up. The themes, both for the rapist and the main, are paralysing and dauntingly effective. But even more so lively in The Entity is how Hershey makes herself real, imperfect and physically weak. The audience relates and wants to console her whenever trouble rolls on her way. Then we get Phil Sneiderman, who is one of my favorite love-to-hate horror characters in existence because of his perpetual interruptions with the improvement of Carlaís condition. Heís not really a bad guy, he just wants to help, but with his unaccepting terms with believing in poltergeists, he gets in the way so much that you just want to slap the hell out of him.

Perhaps itís a stronger film because of Carlaís role as a mother in peril, rather than a teenager. She has gone through so much pain that when she finally settles down with her children, you hate to see the happy family moments shattered. Then there is her and son Billyís (David Labiosa) strange relationship, which I noticed in the beginning of the film, is more like a boyfriend/girlfriend attraction rather than that of mother/son. Very bizarre, but it works. Though based on a supposed true story, special effects elaborate the original story by adding flying lights, lightning strikes, and room shaking goodness. The dark raspy voice (though you never know if it is the voice or not) of the entity is enough to send a cold sliver down your spine every time you watch it. Some may find it cheesy, but it is phenomena film making climbing up to its higher peaks. The road it takes towards the conclusion is a decent one that compliments everything before it beautifully.

Anchor Bayís DVD of The Entity is rounded out by its 2005 documentary The Entity Files, mixing in clips from the movie as well as select artifacts from the true entity case in the 70s. Itís quite a spooky watch as well that goes together with the story evenly. The 2.35:1 picture is more than exuberant, with a loud, clear sound that makes Charles Bernsteinís scoring proud. A theatrical trailer, poster/still gallery and original screenplay are added to the now out of print release, which is one you should definitely check out. Like Iíve already said, it will make you rethink what you may have already established as fairy tales. I do not think that the ending is for everybody. Some may leave feeling unsatisfied, but just think of it as more of a life account than horror film once you come to the finale, if you will. Lingering and creepy, itís posh and scandalous. While fun isnít the word Iíd use to describe it, itís one hundred percent worth your buck. Buy it!

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