Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Sentinel

A pretty, young fashion model gets a new apartment in the city for a deal that seems to good to be true. Because this is a horror movie, of course it's too good to be true. She meets an assortment of strange, ingratiating neighbors who throw weird parties that may or may not turn into orgies and do things like spontaneously masturbate in front of her. Before you know it, she's also being visiting by creepy naked dead people in the night. Could the apartment be... the set of a porn movie? Wait, I mean... the gateway to hell?

I think the key is, don't be Catholic. It's always the Catholics who have to battle demons and shit and fight for the salvation of someone's soul. Just be a Jew or Muslim or, heck, join a different sect of Christianity like Protestant, or whatever, and you'll lead a peaceful, devil-free life.

The Sentinel is a particularly silly entry in the whole Exorcist/Rosemary's Baby-ripoff genre they had going on in the 70's. It's good for maybe a few WTF moments (like the aforementioned masturbation scene) and the occasional enjoyable bit of imagery (all the ghoulish things that come out during the climax), but mostly it's goofy and stilted, packed full of awkward dialogue ("someone is staring at me from the 5th floor up there") and bad ideas for scary scenes (I swear one scene tries to mine tension out of whether or not the heroine can set down a wine bottle in the proper direction for a commercial shoot).

I have trouble rating these kinds of movies sometimes, when they have a certain camp appeal that I appreciate. Do I credit it for occasionally amusing me, even though that amusement wasn't intentional? In this case, considering that this was by the same director as Death Wish 3, it would take a lot more for me to praise it on ground of camp.

Grade: C-


Joseph said...

While I grant that this one is poorly made in a lot of ways, I find it pretty creepy -- the best thing being that SPOILER SPOILER

her nice boyfriend who genuinely seems to like her and try to help her --- is revealed at the end to be a murderer bound for hell. But it's not a Harrison-Ford-in-WHAT-LIES-BENEATH twist... he genuinely does love her and wants to help her, he's not just a sociopath hiding it well. In fact, he killed his wife so he could be with her, putting some guilt on our heroine, as well. That really shook me, and is a pretty bold move in my opinion.

I actually find Catholic horror to be really scary (even as an athiest) because the stakes are so high. Hell... forever, Devils, sin... it feels very heavy to me. So even if the thing is pretty clunky, it worked for me on that level.

Also like the pointless tiny roles for Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Walken. Can always use more of those.

Dan said...

I don't normally fault horror movies for bad acting/dialogue, so I'm not so sure why it bothered me so much this time. Maybe I should give it more of a break... but I'd need more justification. A classic suspense sequence or heavier atmosphere or a truly horrifying image. There might have been some interesting ideas in the story, but they were negated in my mind because of how overplotted the story was. Typically,I'm a fan of horror movies that streamline their story in favor of the above things I mentioned (obviously, there are plenty of exceptions), and this one seemed particularly bogged down by plot and exposition.