Audrey Rose

Year: 1977
Studio: United Artists
Director: Robert Wise
Producer: Franke De Felitta
Writer: Franke De Felitta
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Susan Swift, Marsha Mason

Who'd have ever thought Anthony Hopkins could be this young? Or that the obviously Shakespearian trained thesp could be out-acted by an eleven year old girl? Okay, maybe the last point is a bit of a stretch, but Susan Swift – who did four films and a bit of TV before disappearing completely in 1995 – almost outshines the entire cast.

As possessed New York prepubescent Ivy, she's a little too eager when she's playing the daughter of well-to-do, loving parents Bill and Janice, but when she's in her 'states' – particularly during the final scenes when the hypnotist is regressing her through life, she's incredible.

Ivy's states are bought on by sleepwalking nightmares in which she gets out bed screaming, crisscrossing the room and banging on the walls and window as if trapped somewhere. And only the enigmatic Elliot (Hopkins) can calm her down by calling her the name of his dead daughter, Audrey Rose.

Elliot has been following and watching Ivy, and when he gets close enough to spook Bill and Janice he approaches them with an incredible story. He believes the soul of his infant daughter, who died in a car crash along with his wife, went from her body to that of Ivy when she was born, and he's willing to go to any lengths to prove it.

As the stoic, protective and practical father, Bill thinks the whole thing's ridiculous, but Janice is slowly convinced by the way only Elliott can calm Ivy down when she's in her hysterics, and particularly the way her hands burn as she bangs on the window – as if she's trying to escape from a burning car.

It's very dated to the period and the tone is a little all over the place – if it's a horror film there's not much horror and the climax is decidedly low-fi and almost totally devoid of frights. It's more of a slow, low-key thriller with strong family drama undertones, but as with a lot of movies this old it's very hard to look past the fashions in clothes, restaurants and facial hair.

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