Tuesday, November 28, 2006

[1980] THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS: I loved this little movie from the post-Walt pre-Eisner era of Disney--it's like if Argento did a Disney movie, a completely bloodless supernatural thriller that still does all the scary stuff with P.O.V. shots where you don't know who's watching and a few jump scares and little girls with creepy voices. Lynn-Holly Johnson is your star of the picture who is in contact with....something, out in the woods. I knew she was a former figure skater going into this and if there's such a way as acting like a figure skater, she does it here--attractive and asexual at the same time and really, really earnest (with a cute little Chicagoland accent.) She's perfect for a Disney horror movie; she never gets too scared, so there's never any reason for anyone in the audience to get too scared, even when weird shit is happening to her like her sister's sudden possessions and a blindfolded girl begging for her help every time she looks in a mirror. Her performance keeps a damper on everything and makes this kid-safe--that's my argument--even though the director (John Hough--the Witch Mountain auteur!) is doing his best to shoot this like a traditional scary supernatural movie. Poking around the web it seems like quite a few people had a problem with the ending, which is very science fictiony (the watcher in the woods is some kind of extradimensional being trying to get home) but I didn't. It didn't have the traditional leave-the-theater-with-a-scare ending (like The Fog) and it settled everything without explaining too much, but you'd expect that from a kid's film. Yeah--this was like Carpenter or Argento or even De Palma (like with the obsession with viewpoints) with training wheels.

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