Hallow-vent Calendar - Day 15: The Entity

The Entity

Welcome to our Hallow-vent Calendar; a horror-film-filled daily countdown to our favourite spooky celebration, Hallowe'en. For Day 15 David Ames discovers The Entity...

The 80’s have gifted us with an immense amount of important information. We learned that we should never “Switch the blades with a guy in shades” and that no matter how far you ran (even if it was so far away), you can never get away. These gems, accompanied by greatness like The Goonies, Monster Squad, Fright Night, and most of the Slasher genre have solidified the status of the 80’s in our minds as beacons of ridiculous awesomeness. A time when there was less worry about offending someone and more worry about the amount of kills and/or boobs a movie should contain. When we asked them to jump, they said how high, and then we measured their hair.

The 80’s also gifted us with an amazing amount of movies that were less awfulsome. We can look to classics like Innocent Blood, Near Dark, The Shining, and a myriad of others which were not only spine-tingling but also well-made and respected. Today I watched Sidney J. Furie’s 1982 classic The Entity. In all of its 80’s glory, The Entity captures a true fear and executes the haunted house trope deftly and with style.

The Entity follows a young mother named Carla who lives with her three children and attends night school in hopes of finding a better job. One evening while at home, an invisible entity rapes her, causing her and the children to flee the home. From here, the rest of the movie follows subsequent attacks by the invisible assailant, both physical and sexual. There are some genuinely scary moments, all involving different sexual assaults on the mother. The most disturbing was when the children are forced to watch their mother raped and when the older son tries to step in, he is thrown to the floor and electrocuted.

The story itself is nothing new to the haunted house genre although the inclusion of sexual assault is something not really seen in horror movies such as this. The film is wildly respected in the horror genre, bringing together major issues such as domestic violence, sexual violence, and the dangers inherent in being a woman.

The story, if looked at as social commentary, chronicles the journey of a woman and the pain and misery she must undergo if she is sexually assaulted. This includes disbelief and diagnoses of mental illness. The film shows the victim being blamed for what is happening to her, sadly something that still happens quite a bit, especially in the states. In fact, there are times in the film when Carla is shown to have bruises and bite marks in places where it would be impossible for her to cause them herself. The doctor looks passed this and instead says that she does them to herself.

A young Barbara Hershey plays Carla wonderfully, bringing to the role a sense of desperation and a feeling of loss. She is vulnerable and scared but she performs with an air of inner strength which gives us a very nice final sequence. Other actors and actresses in the film do a good job of performing but no one stands out like Hershey.

As for the filming, it is shot like most horror movies of the time, utilizing close-ups and skewed camera angles when necessary but maintaining a simple film aesthetic for the most part. The style reminds me quite a bit of Poltergeist. The music alternates between subtle tones and music for the regular scenes and then pulsing, pounding, disturbing bass notes for the intense rape scenes.

Overall, this film is a classic and should be watched and while the scary scenes are just that, the times in between drag just a bit. It isn’t boring so much as there is a huge focus on the science and for the layman, this may pull them out of the film. Symbolically the movie deals with post-traumatic stress and the history some people experience when dealing with sexual assault. It is a social commentary on how women are treated in a world where their word isn’t always taken, even when proof is presented.

Image - IMDb.

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