Are You With Us? The Entity
By Ryan Mazie
January 30, 2012
Here is my helpful rule of the thumb to all Hollywood screenwriters: If there are more rape scenes within your movie than you can count on one hand, then there are entirely too many rape scenes in your film. Unfortunately, this advice comes nearly 20 years to this weekend too late for writer Frank De Felitta’s misguided script to the supernatural spooker, The Entity.
Doesn’t it suck to be the one who hates a movie that everybody loves or loves a movie everybody hates (looking at you Armond White for giving Toy Story 3 a thumbs down but Jack and Jill a thumbs up)? I felt this way after watching The Entity. Martin Scorsese is one of my favorite directors and seeing this movie ranked on his top-horror film list, I always had it lingering on my Netflix queue. With Daniel Radcliffe’s haunted house movie, The Woman In Black, coming out this weekend, I felt like this was the perfect type to bump The Entity to the top of the list.
I looked at my watch in amazement, seeing that it wasn’t even only three minutes in and Barbara Hershey was being raped by some invisible figure - just as startled as Hershey’s character Carla Moran. She's a young mother of three with a spirit that has the hots for her. I was shaken again when the same invisible hands raped her again… seven minutes later.
Teetering on exploitation, somehow The Entity, as a testament to the tasteful directing (well, somewhat tasteful – we see a whole lot of Hershey) and strong acting, never feels dirty. Somewhat reminiscent of Paranormal Activity, but with a never-seen ghost that wants sex instead of blood, The Entity is paradoxically ahead and for its time. Ahead in the terms of unseen monsters lurking in quaint households, but in its time for showing full frontal molestation and still being released mainstream (oh, the non-PC era of the '80s), The Entity is an oddball horror flick.
Based off of De Felitta’s same-name novel (which judging by the Amazon ratings, he is a better book writer than scriptwriter), The Entity follows Carla and her children, jumping house to house, yet not being able to shake off the evil presence.
Ron Silver (Ali, Reversal of Fortune) stars as Carla’s psychologist, the most sloppily written character. At first a proposed love interest who is never fully developed, he plays the non-specter villain who is determined to have Carla institutionalized. The problem is that the attacks on Carla are from other people’s perspectives, making it no question if it is a matter of sanity, leading to boring conversations that lead to nothing the audience doesn’t already know (at 125 minutes, The Entity is quite lengthy for the horror genre which usually has in-and-out running times).
B-movie director Sidney J. Furie (his one big film is Superman IV) solidly constructs the film, which excels during the fright scenes. With tension and some moments of fear, Furie angles the shots to get the maximum jolt out of the jump scares that aren’t cheaply achieved. Furie works to build the audience’s trust as he slowly breaks away from the typical horror film structure into a third act that seemingly belongs in a different movie, much like this year’s Insidious, which also has a role played by Barbara Hershey. Unlike Insidious (my favorite horror movie last year), the third act is The Entity’s strongest point, having all of the many characters introduced come together for a finale that results in a big payoff.