Ha ha!

You certainly never know what movie he'll review next!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Burl reviews The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane! (1976)



Ha ha, I’m Burl and this is my house! So, welcome! Yes, today I wanted to tell you about The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane – no, not a real little girl living down an actual lane, but the movie by that name featuring a young Jodie Foster as the little girl of the title!
Foster, whom we know from her one-two punch that is Taxi Driver and Freaky Friday (both released the same year as this one – what a year!) plays Rynn, the preternaturally assured 13 year-old who lives in a big house with her father – but whenever people drop by the house, and they do so frequently, the father is always out, or working, or having his nap!
Droppers-by include the nasty lady who owns the house (Rynn and her absent father have it on a three-year lease), and, separately, her son, a slimy m*lester type played by Martin Sheen from The Dead Zone! A friendly cop played by Viva Las Vegas co-songwriter Mort Shuman is a frequent, increasingly suspicious visitor, and his nephew, Mario the Magician, played by Scott Jacoby from The Supernaturals, pops by as well, but becomes a friend, ally and, eventually, l*ver to the just-barely-teenaged girl!
So just what’s going on with all this mystery and malarkey? Well, Rynn is extremely disinclined to allow anybody down cellar, so that should give you a clue! Is daddy down there? Well, maybe and maybe not! Someone certainly is, and slowly but surely, more people go down there to join them! Ha ha, we ourselves never get a look at the cellar, except for a few quick glimpses down the hatchway!
The movie is largely made up of scenes in which Rynn fends off the inquiries of these visitors, and while they’re effective and well-acted (particularly on the part of the extraordinary Foster), they’re also repetitive and stagy! Never has a movie not based on a play seemed more like a movie based on a play, ha ha; or at least never since the heyday of Roger Corman three-day wonders like A Bucket of Blood!
It’s nevertheless compelling and atmospheric! The setting is a small Maine village in late autumn/early winter, so the atmospherics are mostly built in! It’s not a horror movie, though horrific things happen and there is one genuinely spooky scene! (So, ha ha, maybe it is a horror movie after all!) Those expecting a murder-fest, or eventfulness, or pep, or conclusive endings, will come away disappointed; but devotees of highly controlled child performances will be quite satisfied! A warning to hamster lovers, however: you will be truly shocked and dismayed!
It’s a strange little chamber piece, and if you watch it in the right company, you’ll have a good time! The holes in Rynn's plan quickly become apparent, and it does appear that her poet father might have been a bit damaged himself, but the situation takes on a certain elegance when viewed in its totality, and that, along with Foster, mght be the picture's greatest asset! Ha ha! It takes a while for the child molest*r/hamster killer to get his, but be patient, because eventually he does and it’s quite satisfying! I give The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane two bumping trapdoors!

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