Thursday, October 28, 2010
2010 Geek Fright Fest: The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane
The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane (1976)
Rated R (for language and brief nudity)
Directed by Nicolas Gessner
The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane is a mid-70s thriller based on the novel of the same name by Laird Koeinig. Koeinig, who also wrote the script, adapted the story into a stage play shortly after the book was written.
The film opens as 13 year old Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) is celebrating her birthday alone. She is interrupted by Frank Hallet (Martin Sheen) the obnoxious son of the Jacobs's landlady and a reputed pedophile. Rynn must explain away her father's absence to Frank, and to his nosy mother, Cora (Alexis Smith). When Mrs. Hallet discovers Rynn's secret, she pays dearly for her invasion of privacy. Brilliant and independent Rynn, along with her new love interest Mario (Scott Jacoby), must protect her lifestyle, lest she be forced to live like most children, under the thumb of adults and expected to act like a child.
This film really surprised me. Although it was very controversial when it was released, it's all but forgotten now. I came across it awhile back when looking through TCM's schedule and was intrigued by the plot description. It's a beautiful movie and the acting is amazing. Although it is classified as horror, no violence is shown. I loved the inclusion of Chopin's haunting piano concertos, but I could have done without the weird 70s porn-sounding score.
Because this film is mostly dialogue, the actors' performances are the lynch pin of the movie. Some people are just born to be actors, and Foster is definitely one of them. She was thirteen when this film was made and she is breathtaking. Her steely resolve only waivers when Mario is in trouble and Foster makes it exceedingly easy to believe that this young girl could live alone. Sheen is also good - and very creepy - and he is able to be menacing just by touching Rynn's hair or commenting on her beauty. Jacoby gives an endearing performance as Mario. He's very funny, and Jacoby and Foster have excellent chemistry.
Fright Rating: 1 gasp out of a possible 5
I highly recommend this film, especially for classic movie lovers. There is no violence and very little blood, but there are some sexual themes, so this is not a film for children.