Friday, 21 August 2015

Let's Scare Jessica to Death

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Year:1971
Country of origin:USA
Director:John D. Hancock
Genre:Psychological horror / slasher
Starring:Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Mariclare Costello
Rating:4/5
IMDB link:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067341/


Tagline:Something is after Jessica. Something very cold, very wet... and very dead...
Favourite line:"Nothing's ever completely dead."


Always interesting when a none horror director directs a horror film.

The plot:
Jessica is a troubled woman. Recently released from incarceration due to mental instability, she and her partner, along with a bunch of friends, head into the countryside to forge a new life, away from the hurly-burly, chaotic nature of New York city. As they arrive, pulling in at a gas station, the locals seem a little on the odd side, their manner of speech and mannerisms peculiar and, most notably, every word and action seems to drip with a sense of menace.
Unperturbed, the group continue on their way to their lakeside home and, before long, they’ve settled in, enjoying time swimming, walking and relaxing in general.
But, what’s that thing in the lake that Jessica keeps seeing?
Just who is the strange young woman who has entered their lives all of a sudden?
And is there really a girl in a nightgown running around in the woods, or is it all in Jessica’s mind?

A beautiful little film, this.
Low-budget to the point of amateurishness on occasion, especially in the acting stakes, the overall feel nevertheless overrides any budgetary or ‘talent’ deficiencies.
First time director John Hancock – not sure of that is a nom de plume or not, as a John Hancock is American slang for a signature – conveys a dreamlike world, really, especially when seen from the point of view of the mentally fragile Jessica.
The film opens and closes with beautiful cinematography, as Jessica drifts lazily aboard a boat on the lake, her inner monologue acting as narrator for the viewer and, from these initial moments, the scene is set for something a cut above the average slasher fare.
Haunting, at times, especially as Jessica’s inner thoughts occasionally filter through the ethereal fog, Hancock elevates what could be a standard, early example of a slasher flick to something quite, quite transcendent.
Plot-wise, there’s nothing especially deep here and, in truth, if not for the style with which the camera is handled, the film would lag awfully. Indeed, pacing may be an issue for some, as scenes seem to hang, the camera holding for two or three seconds longer than it really should though, for this viewer, far from becoming tedious, this technique merely reinforced the oddness of the films feel, a touch of the old Brechtian alienation coming into play.
If you have even a passing interest in the horror genre, we’d heartily recommend this little-seen curio, but don’t go near it if low budget fodder is an issue.
Very good indeed.

2 comments:

  1. Haha!
    No, they put a Richard Herring in it instead!

    ReplyDelete