By Richard Winters
My Rating: 1 out of 10
4-Word Review: She’s obsessed with her.
Emily (Talia Shire) is attacked in her apartment by a rapist (Rick Petrucelli) and when the police come to investigate the crime she starts to fall in love with Bob (Joe Cortese) the handsome police captain. Little does Emily know that her friend Andrea (Elizabeth Ashley) was behind the attack. She is a closet lesbian with a secret psychotic obsession for Emily who hired the man to rape her and record it, so Andrea could get-off on listening to the sounds of Emily moaning during the struggle. Now that Emily is going out with Bob it makes Andrea angry and her behavior becomes more dangerous and erratic.
For a thriller this film is extraordinarily low-key to the point that it also comes off like a drama, but fails on both ends. There is no mounting tension and little if any scares. The only one that they do have is when Andrea sticks Emily’s cat into a freezer and later it drops out of it like it was a Popsicle, which is actually unintentionally funny. There is also hardly any music. Ennio Morricone was hired to be the composer, but they don’t use him as much as they should. An amazing amount of the movie deals with the natural street sounds and ambience from life in New York, which is interesting for a while, but does nothing to elevate the tension, or create any excitement. Famed cinematographer Gordon Willis in his directorial debut seems more interested in capturing the New York skyline and creating shadowy interiors than actually making a movie with an original story, or interesting characters.
Shire is so quiet and awkward that she seems to be in a mental stupor. Her screen presence here is transparent and lifeless and it is easy to see why her leading lady status was brief. Cortese is no better as the male lead and the romantic side-story has no energy or chemistry and only helps to bog down an already boring story. Intercutting this with Andrea’s visits to her psychiatrist (Michael Lipton) successfully creates the first thriller to have no suspense whatsoever.
Ashley seems like the perfect choice for a homicidal lesbian, but the part is written in a way that doesn’t allow her to go over-the-top with it, which she should have although you do get to see her wearing quite possibly the biggest pair of sunglasses that I have ever seen. It might have worked better had the viewer not been aware from the start about Andrea’s psychosis and instead only revealed it at the end as a twist.
The climatic sequence between Emily and Andrea would be laughable if it weren’t so mind numbingly stilted and prolonged. The scene goes on for almost twenty minutes and features the two women standing in front of a window with Emily weeping incessantly while Andrea rambles incoherently. How anyone who was involved in the making of this movie would think anyone would flock to see this dull and contrived thing should have their brains checked. Has an air of pretense to it like it is trying to be a ‘sophisticated’ thriller, but it is pointless. If ‘Mystery Science Theater’ were still around this would be a great candidate for it.
My Rating: 1 out of 10
Released: January 18, 1980
Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes
Director: Gordon Willis
Studio: United Artists
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video