Director: Nicolas Roeg
Cast: Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie, Hilary Mason
Original Release Date: 1973
Scores: Technical: 85, Story: 85, Acting: 85, Overall Score: 85
A rather odd film, with a splendid performance on Donald Sutherland’s part, nice direction, and a totally unexpected but awesome surprise ending. I’d call it an overlooked horror classic, frankly, but it’s not overlooked anymore it seems, as Hollywood, apparently out of original ideas, is remaking it. Why are they bent on taking classic horror films like Don’t Look Now and The Wicker Man and totally screwing them over? It’s a real pain. But oh well, we’re not discussing the future crappy remake, let’s talk about the classic’s basic plot.
Donald Sutherland plays a man whose young daughter recently drowned close to their home, and is now on retreat in Venice with his wife. There they encounter two old Italian sisters who his wife are deeply interested in, the sisters proclaiming that they are psychic and have contacted Sutherland’s daughter from beyond the grave.
Add to this Sutherland’s own growing paranoia and visions that may be hallucinations or signs of a gift of his own and the film takes a winding route to the devestating final conclusion.Â Let me say it and say it now, if you plan on seeing this film, don’t even search for it on the internet, don’t do anything that may reveal spoilers. It’s like, imagine seeing The Sixth Sense for the first time. Or Fight Club. It’s a popular well-known surprise ending, so don’t ruin it for yourself, the full experience is gained when one has no idea what is coming around the next corner.
As for direction, Nicolas Roeg does a splendid job confusing and baffling us in the dark atmosphere he builds into the city of Venice, using dark imagery and a horrific final plot twist to stick the nail into the proverbial coffin. Every scene seems to have future consequence by the time you hit the final twist. Beautiful and classic horror film.
Is it a masterpiece? No, not really, but it’s certainly a great film, and worth a rent. Really one of the great “Surprise Ending” films that people often talk about. I recommend giving it a rent.
– Review by Sanbud Tehrani