At first glance, 1977's Audrey Rose looks like a riff on The Exorcist. There are scenes of a little girl acting like she's possessed by a demon, sure, but she isn't possessed by a demon. That's what separates this film from the likes of The Omen and Abby (yep, I totally referenced Abby). In Audrey Rose, there is no demon. There is no monster, no evil spirit, no otherworldly antagonist. This isn't a balls-out horror flick. No, this is a supernatural thriller. Don't get me wrong; Audrey Rose is spooky and suspenseful, but if I had to compare it to another ghost story, it would be The Changeling.
Anthony Hopkins stars as Elliot Hoover, a man who has spent weeks observing a family from afar. He spots a little girl named Ivy who reminds him of someone. Her parents don't trust him, so they won't let him near their daughter. I wouldn't either. But Elliot is adamant about meeting Ivy, and he won't take "no" for an answer. Intriguing synopsis, right? The first hour is gripping. The nightmare sequences are blood-shaking, the acting is superb, and the mystery of the plot is...well, mysterious. Hopkins is empathetic, although he is intimidating when he needs to be. In my humble opinion, this is one of the best performances of his career.
Susan Swift is uneven as the disconcerted Ivy. At times, she is downright amazing, but her delivery is inconsistent. Her turn as a troubled stripling doesn't approach the layered horror of Linda Blair's showing in The Exorcist. Still, it's clear that Swift was a talented kid. Halfway through, the film shifts gears and transmutes into a court drama. It's an abrupt about-face. Truthfully, it doesn't work, but the script picks up during the heartrending climax. The ending is killer. I don't think that this moody motion picture could have ended in a more fitting way.
Did I mention that Audrey Rose was directed by Robert Wise? I didn't? Well, Audrey Rose was directed by Robert Wise. There. Speaking of which, if you love The Haunting as much I do, you'll probably enjoy this film. They are both character-driven, which is refreshing after sitting through all four hours of Philosophy of a Knife. I would also recommend Audrey Rose to fans of Poltergeist, Stir of Echoes, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (Audrey's long-lost sister?), and of course, The Changeling.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:19 PM