August 2, 2012

The Haunting of Julia (1977)

"After the death of her daughter, Julia Lofting, a wealthy housewife, moves to London to re-start her life. All seems well until she is haunted by the sadness of losing her own child and the ghosts of other children."

Also known as "Full Circle" for no apparent reason, this was another VHS movie which I watched during my internet downtime, although, of course, it's available to watch in half a dozen different places on YouTube. I've posted one of those sources above since you won't find this on DVD except as a bootleg.

Even for someone who likes ghostie movies as much as I do, this was quite a struggle to get through. Although the story started off being similar to "Half Light" (2006), it soon got quite confusing and plodded along quite depressingly. It also reminded me of "Don't Look Now" (1973) and "The Dark" (2005), but only at the most superficial level of having the loss of a child at the beginning.

There was nothing very original about "The Haunting of Julia" even for the time other than it being really mean-spirited in the truest and most pun-filled sense of the word. The ghost in this was out to kill people for apparently no reason at all. If you can find any motivation for why the spirit was so vengeful, feel free to leave a comment below and tell me because I must have missed it.

The scares were genuinely scary, the atmosphere was very morbid, but the mystery of why things were happening eventually turned out to be too contrived for its own good, and I really didn't like the downbeat ending.

What interested me the most about the film was seeing a lot of actors who I'd almost forgotten about. Keir Dullea (from "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Black Christmas"), Tom Conti (who was recently in "The Dark Knight Rises"), and Anna Wing (from "Eastenders") were all in this. Even Peter Sallis and Nigel Havers turned up in bit parts. None of the bigger characters had much time on screen which was probably a good thing since they were very alienating and easily dislikeable.

I'm tempted to say that my main problem was that the story was so centred on Mia Farrow who I've never found that appealing. Big fans of her work would probably say that her performance here was only slightly short of excellent. She could definitely act, but, because her character came across as nervous, neurotic and socially awkward, I didn't think it was any different to the role she played in "Rosemary's Baby" (1968) which irritated me as well.

Based on a novel by Peter Straub, "The Haunting of Julia" was little more than a vehicle for Mia Farrow to play the same character that she did in every other movie that I've ever seen her in except even more miserably.

I'll probably get hated for this, but I can't rate "The Haunting of Julia" any higher than average.

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