Monday, October 21, 2013

halloween marathon: the haunting of julia

Rosemary's Baby is still one of my all-time favorite movies, horror or otherwise, but before I re-watch it, I decided to try another Mia Farrow-starring horror movie which I had never seen before, The Haunting of Julia (originally released as Full Circle), a British film from 1977, directed by Richard Loncraine (Brimstone & Treacle, The Missionary, Wimbledon).

Based on the novel Julia by Peter Straub, The Haunting of Julia features Farrow as Julia, a wealthy woman who must start her life again after the tragic death of her young daughter Kate (Sophie Ward). The movie starts off with a bang when a seemingly innocent breakfast turns tragic when Julia can't save her daughter from choking on a piece of apple, as she desperately tries to perform an emergency tracheotomy (apparently pre-Heimlich maneuver) while her helpless, practically useless husband Magnus (Keir Dullea) looks on.

Julia understandably flips out for a while, and when she starts to come out of her funk she jettisons her avaricious husband and moves into a creaky, quirky London house. What she doesn't know is that the house is haunted. Or is it? Are the noises and strange happenings a ghost, her ex-husband stalking her, or all in her mind?

Mark (Tom Conti) brings a housewarming gift

Julia enlists the help of her friendly antique dealer, the skeptical Mark (Tom Conti), as well as her sister-in-law, a local medium, and neighbors to help explain why her new fully furnished house has some creepy childhood toys which apparently can't be photographed. The bodies start to pile up as Julia goes on her quest to resolve her grief and solve a past murder. Farrow is once again sporting her Rosemary pixie cut and researching the supernatural, this time at the British Museum Library.

Come to Mamma Mia: "Come ... everything's right now ... stay with me."

Although The Haunting of Julia shares similarities to The Haunting and Don't Look Now, it is spooky and involving in its own right. The soundtrack by Colin Towns is appropriately eerie and helps take the viewer down the rabbit hole with Julia. Mia Farrow is as fragile as she should be, but the movie also presents an interesting twist on the woman in peril. Yes, she may be going a little crazy, but she is also actively trying to make changes in her life, without needing her husband or the help of any man. The character of Mark is a friend, and a sounding board, but he is little help in her supernatural investigations, and not a true or typical romantic interest. What drives Julia and the movie, as it did in Rosemary's Baby, is Julia's identity as a mother. She will fight to help a child, real, imaginary, or ghost, whatever the consequences.


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