A young woman is invited by her girlfriend, who lives in an English country mansion, to stay there with her. The estate, however, isn’t quite what it seems—and neither is the friend who issued the invitation.
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A quaint psychological horror film in the realm of Polanski's Repulsion, Altman's Images, Bergman's Persona, and Clayton's The Innocents. A study of encroaching madness, it's also quietly creepy. Symptoms-- with its attention to detail and violent horror-- beats the bleeding shit out of nearly every modern psych-horror film, like the underwhelming and pussyfooting, The Babadook and The Witch.
Angela Pleasance gives an incredibly convincing portrayal of a mind unhinged. Psychic turmoil is belied by the stillness of foggy autumn groves and placid lakes. Quiet horror that's elemental in its approach, this film proves that something as archetypal as an attic door ajar can trigger a fear response far more atavistic and real than anything in today's horror flicks.
Exquisitely paced and gorgeously photographed female-led chiller. The soft English autumn provides the backdrop to this tale of mental fragility and was never more beautifully captured than here. A surprising delight
It achieves a lot through a mise en scene that seems to manifest from its pastoral setting. It doesn't so much as culminate in dread, but rather with the unnerving Pleasence presence, begin in a state of deep uneasiness. It missed an opportunity to go occult, the screams of the birds being the source of the natural imbalance. What it settles on is only troubling insofar as you're unaware this is genre.
Maybe this says more about me as a person but is it weird that I prefer the 'boring' mundane scenes over the scary slasher scenes? Like, I honestly wouldn't have minded if the rest of the film had played out as an anticlimactic drama about a mentally ill woman and her friend enjoying peace and quiet before returning to civilization. But as is, it's quite a scary slow-burn film.
2.4 stars. Lacks the thrumming wrongness of the 'Baby' episode of Nigel Kneale's 'Beasts' or the riveting menace of Robert Fuest's 'And Soon the Darkness', though it reminded me of both. I appreciated its frank approach to female masturbation, even if it was used as a site of abjection. It never felt fully convinced of its own premise. Must be an ace film to stumble across in the middle of the night on television tho
This British/Belgium/Spanish co_production,was Britain's official entry to the Cannes Film Festival in 1974.Directed by Spanish filmmaker Jose Ramon Larraz(famous for his "Vampires"1974). It's the story of an unhinged mind,set in an idyllic English countryside.Similar in tone to Polanski's "Repulsion"(1965)it has the same outsiders look to it.Good acting and photography,make for an hidden gem of British genre cinema.