The Sentinel (1977)
Starring: Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles
Directed by: Michael Winner
A troubled young woman moves into an apartment block to find that the many residents surrounding her are a bit ‘odd’. However, according to the estate agent, it is only herself and the blind priest priest above her who actually occupy the building…..
A very decadent movie which benefits from an eclectic cast of both aging hollywood character acters (Carradine, Balsam, Gardner, Meredith) and young starlets (Sarandon and Raines). I have to say though, I find Carradine’s role in this movie very peculiar – he is basically employed to sit in a chair and look glum under a mound of make-up. Interesting bit-parts fall to Eli Wallach and Christopher Walken as bemused police detectives.
There are some moments of what can only be described as filth – Miles’ marauding lesbian is a good example – and others of near brilliance. But the movie is unbalanced and somewhat predictable – we have to sit through an awful lot of strange noises, bumps in the night etc. before the script really develops itself and engages with the audience. Nevertheless, Winner handles the finale very well and there is a great energy to the closing scenes – the monsters rising from the depths of hell owe more than a nod to Tod Browning’s classic shocker “Freaks” but are still very effective in generating a significant amount of discomfort.
On the other hand, genuine terror is not particularly evident throughout most of the movie and scares are quite scare; ultimately meaning that it really doesn’t deliver as a horror film in its own right.
Overall, a well-acted movie, which is a tad slow to develop and too lite on the fright-factor for my liking : ultimately misfiring for these reasons.
hotdog rating: 5.5/10