Childless 2008 ****


Another entry in the growing file of vanished films; writer/director Charlie Levi’s film Childless gained some traction on the film festival circuit and won a few friends in 2018. In 2015, it snuck out on limited release, yet somehow there’s no actual reviews on the imdb page from professional critics or members of the public. Barbara Hershey leads an impressive cast including Mamet regular Joe Mantegna, Diane Verona and James Naughton; the subject is dark, sure, not for everyone, but the acting is top notch in this depiction of parents struggling to deal with the loss of daughter Katherine (Natalie Dreyfuss). Hershey in particular is blistering; when given the chance (The Entity, Hannah and Her Sisters, The Last Temptation of Christ), she rules the screen, and the straight-to-camera styling here allows her and all the actors the chance to shine. Levi dares to find dark humour in this situation; coming from one of the producers of In The Bedroom, this is a fresh and original take on superficially similar material. Childless now pops up on Amazon Prime in the US, essentially free to view for anyone with a subscription. It’s a minor gem of a film that had little or no fanfare, but is deserving of both an audience and a critical reassessment. Attempting to plug films like this into an audience is one of the purposes of this blog; how else are viewers going to know these films exist?

The Entity 1982 ***


Quite a sensation in the early 80’s, Sidney J Furie’s The Entity is a brutal account of a woman being regularly assaulted by paranormal forces, and makes a virtue of being based on true events, the well documented case of Doris Bither. Renamed Carla Moran, this woman is played with remarkable candour by Barbara Hershey in this adaptation of Frank De Felitta’s novel, with Ron Silver as the doctor she turns to for help. Furie doesn’t play the gothic card at all, with drab LA settings adding a strange verisimilitude and building to a truly weird climax where a duplicate of Moran’s house is built on a sound-stage, with the intention of freezing the demon when it appears. The special effects of the demonic attacks are still impressive, even if the whole entertainment value of the film is problematic. Of course, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino were front-row fans of the film, and it’s become a cult item since. Hershey locates a sympathetic core in Moran, and the gradual feeling that all the men in her life are in some way exploiting her is persuasive. The vestiges of an incest subplot only serve to confuse issues, but The Entity is worth a look for genre fans because of the high-seriousness and the mistrust of the male scientific figures involved. If nothing else, now almost certainly is a better time to consider The Entity’s merits than when Scottish television somehow selected this as their festive Christmas Day movie in the mid 1980’s.