The Haunting of Julia (aka Full Circle) (1977). Directed by Richard Loncraine. Starring Mia Farrow, Keir Dullea, Tom Conti, Jill Bennett, Robin Gammell, Anna Wing, Cathleen Nesbitt.
What compelled me to watch this film wasn’t so much its plot, but its cast. Mia Farrow and Keir Dullea in the same movie? Yes, please. I went into it thinking it was going to be your standard “parent’s grief over the loss of a child manifests itself in supernatural forms” (see also Don’t Look Now and The Changeling) and it is in many ways, but it has some interesting twists and turns that set it apart.
Farrow is great as the titular Julia, a grief-and-guilt-stricken mother of a daughter who dies during an unfortunate accident that involves choking on an apple and a botched emergency kitchen tracheotomy. After leaving her husband and trying to move on with her life in a new house, strange things start happening and Julia believes she’s being haunted by her little girl. It turns out she is being haunted, not by her own daughter but by the ghost of a vengeful, horrible little girl who once lived in Julia’s home.
The Haunting of Julia manages to be subtle and terrifying at the same time, a balance I think is hard to achieve with a ghost story. I love everything about it — the performances, the unexpected twists, the incredibly creepy score — and I highly recommend you check it out.
The Yellow Wallpaper (2011). Directed by Logan Thomas. Starring Aric Cushing, Juliet Landau, Dale Dickey, Veronica Cartwright, Michael Moriarty, Raymond J. Barry.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of my favorites — I was obsessed with it as a teenager and wrote several papers about it for various English classes. There are seven film adapatations of it listed in IMDb (four in 2011 alone), but I’ve never managed to see any of them, so I figured I’d give this one a try, especially since it stars the great Dale Dickey. I should’ve just read the short story again instead.
This “adaptation” barely has anything to do with the original story, other than the fact that there’s a room in a house with yellow wallpaper. From what I understand, several of Perkins Gilman’s short stories were blended together for this script and the result is utterly disappointing. The original depth and meaning of the short story is completely lost in this subpar haunted house film. The dialogue is terrible, the performances are lackluster — with the exception of Dickey — and the plot is meandering and muddy. Thus far in my marathon, this one gets the award for the most unsastisfying.