The Sentinel (1977)
What's It About?
Alison Parker (Christina Raines) is a fashion model living in New York City. Not wanting to settle down with her boyfriend Michael (Christopher Sarandon) she leases an apartment in Brooklyn. The apartment is large and cheap but the building is full of eccentrics like a weird old man and his cat, a predatory lesbian couple, and a blind priest who sits in the window all day long. But soon strange things begin happening and Alison learns that her new home is not what it seems.
Is It Any Good?
The Sentinel was part of the paperback horror revolution of the 70s and 80s. The book by Jeffrey Konvitz is a clear and obvious riff on Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby but it's a fairly unique and clever one.
If you plan on watching this movie, plan on watching it twice because nothing about it is going to make sense until the big reveal at the very end. This movie takes so many bizarre twists and turns that following its internal logic is impossible until a character gives you the piece of information you need to finish the puzzle.
But when things finally do come together at the end, it's wonderfully creepy. The finale of the film has a wonderful haunted house quality about it (if someone ever did actually make a haunted house attraction based on the finale of this movie I would almost certainly travel across the country to attend it) that ends on a pretty bittersweet opposite side of the coin from the ending of Rosemary's Baby. It's a nice example of how something can be clearly bit off of something else and still be great in its own right.
There are a ridiculous amount of great character actors in this movie, both from the era before the movie (Burgess Meredith, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, Eli Wallach, Jerry Orbach, William Hickey) and the era following (Beverly D'Angelo, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Bergenger, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Walken) with the exception of Sarandon all of these people have small supporting roles at best and bit parts at worst. But it's nice to see everyone turn up (especially young, sexy Christopher Walken.) And if you've ever wanted to watch Beverly D'Angelo aggresively and angrily masturbate through a pair of tights, well, that's a really specific desire but I have great news!
Watch, Toss, or Buy?
I'd give it a buy.