The Entity (1981)
The Real Paranormal Activity
I mean I'd rather be dead than living the way I've been living. Do you understand that? - Carla
As a horror movie "The Entity" is not the best, but it is disturbing, playing on your mind long after the credits have finished rolling. You see "The Entity", a story about a woman who is raped and abused by some unseen force is actually based on a true story that of Doris Bither who suffered a series of violent attacks from some unseen force. As such "the Entity" is more psychologically frightening than in your face frightening.
Having returned home one night, Carla Moran (Barbara Hershey - Hoosiers) is about to go to bed when she is hit across the face, thrown onto her bed and raped by an unseen presence. Freaked out by what happened, her eldest son suggests it was a nightmare but when it happens again Carla knows that something isn't right. Whilst the psychiatrists think that these attacks are self inflicted, manifestations of events from Carla's past a group of parapsychologists and researchers discover that there truly is some sort of evil spirit at work, attacking Carla for no apparent reason.
The storyline to "The Entity" is by no means your normal mainstream horror, there is no real big final scene where good battle's evil and wins out. This is a movie which has that feeling of being documentary like with two sections the first is the frightening attacks which start to plague the life of Carla Moran; the second is the proof that she is not imagining this stuff. As such the storyline itself is not overly compelling, it doesn't feel like it has a proper narrative arc, instead throwing up dramatised events of important moments, the first rape, the initial visit to the psychiatrist, the paranormal investigators who witness these attacks and so on.
But whilst the storyline itself isn't compelling, watching what happens is in a very primal voyeurism sort of way. When we witness that first unexpected attack as Carla is thrown on to her bed, a pillow smothering her face while she is raped by some sort of spirit it grabs you and shocks you. But at the same time it makes you wonder what will happen next, what the next attack will be, how violent and disturbing it will be. And it has to be said the subsequent attacks and rapes are even more disturbing, from the brutal bathroom scene through to the one which happens in front of her children they command your attention.
With a weakly constructed storyline there are moments in "The Entity" which seem like they are floating a little unguided and it does have a feeling of being unbelievable, if you had been raped by a spirit in your home would you go back for more. It's because the movie focuses more on events than really telling a well constructed storyline that it does struggle. But at the same time it's also fascinating especially as the psychiatrists try to explain what is happening, suggesting these attacks are fictional, manifestations of Carol's past which have now returned.
Considering "The Entity" was released nearly 30 years ago it has to be said that the special effects aren't that bad. There are some standard moments, lightening like sparks in the air and a green mist floating through the rooms, whilst walls and mirrors shake. But there are also the impressive effects when for example Carla's breasts show signs of being fondled yet there are no hands, a clever trick done with hot air guns to simulate fingers and it really does have that wow factor.
As for the acting well there really is only one star of "The Entity" and that is Barbara Hershey as Carla Moran. Now with the weak storyline there are elements to Hershey's performance I struggled with, she wasn't hysterical enough, to willing to return, almost too in control of her emotions for someone who has basically been raped by a ghost. But then in those attack scenes, the brutally violent rape scenes Hershey is stunning delivering realism such as when she is first hit around the face, it's so real yet there is no one there hitting her. It's down to Hershey's convincing, painful performance in the rape scenes which makes "The Entity" so disturbing.
What this all boils down to is that "The Entity" is not the best horror when it comes to a cohesive storyline but it is both frightening and disturbing. With it being based on a true story and featuring some of the most brutal and realistic rape scenes it really plays on your mind, especially as the final credits roll and we learn that the woman who "The Entity" was based upon still suffered them. Much of why it works is down to Barbara Hershey who in those demanding scenes puts in a brilliant and believable performance and as such there is some sort of primal voyeurism feeling as you wonder what will happen next.
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