Recently released from a psychiatric hospital, Jessica, her husband Duncan, and their friend Woody move from New York City to a bucolic New England village. They find that the farmhouse they bought is occupied by a transient, Emily, but they invite her to stay. Soon Jessica starts to see and hear strange and disquieting things; are they a recurrence of her psychosis, related to the strange stories of the farmhouse’s past, or a plot to drive her mad?
I believe I saw this movie on television at some point; my mother was a horror fan, introducing me to Stephen King, “Harvest Home,” “The Hearse,” “Motel Hell,” and many other gems, so it’s the sort of thing that would have been must-watch-TV if it showed up late at night. It has a languid, dream-like quality, with its late summer setting with a hint of menace just beneath the surface. We hear Jessica’s inner monologue throughout, and it’s easy to conclude that she is indeed going mad, but then there are enough actual creepy events–the strange mute girl, the ominous old men in the town, Emily’s seductive ways–to suggest that there is something evil afoot.
Zohra Lampert’s performance is a tour-de-force of psychic fragility and gradual descent into madness; it’s much subtler than Edwidge Fenech’s in the somewhat-similar All the Colors of the Dark.
Huge thanks to Shudder for making this hard-to-find classic available!