Audrey Rose (1977)
Directed by Robert Wise
Featuring Anthony Hopkins, Marsha Mason, John Beck
What it is: Drama with mystical and horror overtones
A father and mother are alarmed when a strange man takes an interest in their daughter. When the stranger reveals to them that he believes their daughter to be the reincarnation of his own daughter who died many years ago in an automobile accident, they dismiss him as a kook. However, the daughter begins to have nightmares, and the only person who can calm her down is the stranger...
This movie is something of a cross between THE EXORCIST and THE SEARCH FOR BRIDEY MURPHY. It also has something of a lukewarm reputation, and I think this may be because the movie was marketed as a horror movie and whose similarities to THE EXORCIST lead one to expect something other than what is delivered. I think it works better as a drama with mystical overtones in which the mother is the central character; it is she who finds herself torn between the competing belief systems and it is her character who undergoes the greatest change during the length of the movie. Both Marsha Mason and Anthony Hopkins (as the stranger) do excellent jobs. My biggest problem with the movie was the performance of the child actor; she's convincing in some scenes, less so in others. Granted, she does have a tough role, but it is a role that really needs to be on the mark for the movie to work completely. I like it better than most other people do, but it is one of those movies that requires a certain degree of patience.