Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Haunting of Julia (1977)

Slightly creepy in moments but deadly dull overall, The Haunting of Julia is yet another ’70s horror picture about a woman whose maternal instincts are tested by the presence of an evil child, complete with a starring performance by Mia Farrow, who became a star by appearing in the granddaddy of this particular subgenre, 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby. While the best creepy-kid movies follow a simple supernatural premise to its logical extreme, The Haunting of Julia awkwardly fuses two concepts, creating narrative confusion. Is the story about Julia Lofting (Mia Farrow) recovering from the death of her own child, or is the story about Julia getting spooked by the spirit of a dead little boy who once lived in her house? And which of these deceased kids, if either, is responsible for the string of grisly murders claiming the lives of people around Julia? Or is Julia insane and actually committing the murders herself? Answers to these questions may or may not be buried within The Haunting of Julia, but only diehard fans of either Farrow or the creepy-kid genre will have the patience to investigate. Most of the picture comprises dull montages of Farrow driving, moping, or sleeping, all scored with disquieting keyboard suites topped by eerie synthesizer flourishes. Composer Colin Towns works overtime to infuse the picture with atmosphere even when nothing’s actually happening, just like supporting player Tom Conti provides welcome comic relief as Julia’s easygoing best friend. Furthermore, because Farrow is palatable in the leading role, basically reprising her Rosemary’s performance, The Haunting of Julia has redeeming qualities. What it lacks is entertainment, even though a few characters die colorfully, and even though a nice run of disturbing scenes ensues when Julia investigates the death of the little boy. More material like that would have helped.

The Haunting of Julia: LAME

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