Linda inherits her mother’s Victorian mansion, located in the middle of the Australian dusty farmlands. It’s been remodeled as an retirement / nursing home, run by Connie and the doctor Barton. She’s quick to settle in, but it isn’t long before nightmares begin to haunt her, while some of the old people start to die in mysterious ways. She finds her mother’s diary that reveals one dark secret after another, and opens repressed memories. She begins to see a figure in her bedroom window, the water tap turns on by itself, the house cat begins to hunt shadows in the hallways, and candles seem to light up by themselves. One of the female nude statues in the garden has had one of her tits crushed. Much of what Linda is beginning to experience is the same thing her mother noted in her diary. Linda’s underlying paranoia skyrockets to eleven as she believes someone is tapping her phone late at night while she talks to her boyfriend, Barney, the only one she can barely trust.
This obscurity from Australia is a slow-burner where the film takes its time to find out if it’s a gothic ghost story, or a psychological thriller just to make you as confused as the protagonist. The film has been compared to The Shining (1980), but I would say it’s more in the same alley as Roman Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” with some similarities from Dario Argento’s Suspiria, where the atmosphere is the center focus with some really disturbing moments. And if you get creeped out by old people, well, this film is clearly (not) for you.
This is also the first and last feature film of Tony Williams, which is pretty unfortunate, because with a far more ambitious script I believe he would have made some really great stuff. While the film got its cult following in USA, it flopped in Australia. And the film’s cinematographer, Gary Hansen, died in a helicopter accident shortly after its release. Life is unfair.
And here’s a warning: Don’t watch the trailer. It spoils everything. Yes, it’s one of those.
Director: Tony Williams
Country & year: Australia, 1982
Actors: Jacki Kerin, John Jarratt, Alex Scott, Gerda Nicolson, Charles McCallum, Bernadette Gibson, Robert Ratti, Vince Deltito, Tommy Dysart, Debra Lawrance