The Sentinel (1977)
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as Michael Lerman
as Alison Parker
as Charles Chazen
as Professor Ruzinsky
as Father Francis Matthew Halloran
as Robed Figure
as Miss Logan
as Girl at End
as Man At End
as Malcolm Stinnett
as Rebecca Stinnett
as Rebecca Stinnett
as Mrs. Clark
as Lillian Clotkin
as Emma Clotkin
as Dr. Aureton
as Alison's Father
as Alison's Mother
as Party Host
as Professor's Student
as Brenner's Secretary
as Real Estate Agent
Critic Reviews for The Sentinel
The only frightening thing about The Sentinel is its director's mind.
The Sentinel is a grubby, grotesque excursion into religioso psychodrama, notable for uniformly poor performances by a large cast of familiar names and direction that is hysterical and heavy-handed.
The confrontations are supposed to be terrifying but the most they offer is some mild creepiness.
[Michael Winner] watched too many Fellini films and got only the grotesqueries out of them, and made The Sentinel not worth watching.
The scene stealer, though, is Burgess Meredith as Alison's neighbor, Charles Chazen.
Audience Reviews for The Sentinel
Around this time in the seventies there was a resurgence of films with demonic presences, amongst which were "Rosemary's Baby", "The Omen", and "The Exorcist". It was popular to give children the power of demonic powers, as they are vulnerable beings without much threat towards stronger adults. "The Sentinel" capitalized on the trend of giving demonic presence, but instead placed it within your home, where you supposedly feel safe. Instead of being a ubiquitous haunted house tale, the apartment in which model Alison is residing is the gateway into Hell, and though she believes she is surrounded by oddball, perverted, frankly creepy neighbors, she is all alone in the building except for a blind priest who lives upstairs. The film itself is not very horrific, doesn't try to be ultimately gory, and often tries to build up tension or show the depths of characters that aren't that interesting to begin with. Alison, our main protagonist, is living on her own since failing to commit suicide several times from being depressed as a teenager and from witnessing a gluttonous orgy brought about by her elderly father (it wasn't a pretty scene, and was probably the strangest part of a film that gets stranger as it goes). For over half of the film the model hears weird sounds, has problems concentrating and fainting, and seems stressed over her new home, but there is rarely a moment of true horror until the very end. Some seriously big names from the Golden Age of Hollywood show up in this including Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Jose Ferrer, and Arthur Kennedy, in minor roles, some as demonic neighbors. The lead actress isn't horrible, but she seems out of her element on more than one occasion, looking bedroom eyed and confused. It has a really great concept, and the ending is creepy, but the film doesn't take its time to establish the concept or enlighten the audience, but instead traipses around making ghostly noises.
A rather odd big budget studio horror film made to cash-in the late 60s-70s satanic craze that produced a few masterpieces of the genre. Michael Winner's lack of subtlety condemns the film to look as a poor and shoddy attempt, despite an all star cast and an eerie premise.
I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about The Sentinel. I don't know if its the chest cold that's kicking my ass or the movie, but I feel like I never got my bearings, like I never got settled in as far as the movie was concerned. (I'm sure this is part of its effectiveness, but still...) The all over the board cast was definitely neat but once they started dropping in throughout the movie it started getting distracted. A lot of the imagery was randomly jarring (from the creepy cake threesome and Beverly D'Angelo rigorously masturbating to the last ten minutes) and I'm glad I saw The Sentinel but its definitely one of those movies you really don't need to see again. Catch it if you can but don't lose any sleep if you don't.
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