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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.33%
Average: 4.17%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.17%

2 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Haunting of Julia, The
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by Jay Seaver

"This sort of ghost story is an endangered species, in more ways than one."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2012 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "The Haunting of Julia" (aka "Full Circle") is extremely hard to find today - the copy used for this screening was a special telecine from the only known archival print, and the actual ownership of the film is a bit murky. That's a movie not far from lost, and while that fate shouldn't befall any film, it's easy and sad to imagine it happening to "Julia" - it's good enough to be missed, but not until someone points out its absence.

Julia (Mia Farrow) may not quite be living a perfect life, but it's comfortable and she's got a lovely daughter (Sophie Ward) - at least until Kate suddenly starts choking during breakfast and Julia's desperate but perhaps misguided attempt to clear an airway for her leaves the girl dead and Julia in a mental ward. Upon her release, she leaves her husband Magnus (Keir Dullea) and buys a new house, spending more time with her old friend Mark (Tom Conti). Her new house has lots of strange noises and an odd thing or two happens there, but how much of that is Magnus trying to intimidate Julia into coming back and how much is a ghost from the house's past?

Do you need a waifish young woman to scare witless? 1970s Mia Farrow is the way to go, looking like she'll blow away in a strong wind and with a voice to match (here sporting a posh English accent). Her initial collapse and later panicky torment are just what you'd expect. Just as great, though, is her frenzied mania in that first sequence or her anger at others not believing in her; she pushes her face and voice to their limits, looking and sounding like she's about to become someone else. She's no simple victim, though; what most intriguing about Julia and Farrow's portrayal of her is how intelligent and focused she seems much of the time. By the same token; there's this sheltered and privileged air to her as she investigates the mysteries surrounding her potentially haunted house that makes the audience question her apparent stability in a different way.

She's supported by a very nice cast; Tom Conti, for instance, is really nice as best friend Mark, playing him as charming, asexual, and supportive but also kind of watching her for signs of trouble without saying so or looking obvious about it. Keir Dullea is note-perfect as her self-interested husband, with Jill Bennett aristocratically put-upon and his sister and Julia's friend (such divided loyalties are so bothersome). A fine rogue's gallery of English character actors pass through as Julia traces the steps of the old murder, most notably Robin Gammell as a drunk still shaken by it, Anna Wing as a medium, and Mary Morris as the victim's mother, still seeking vengeance all these years later.

While the script by Harry Davenport and Dave Humphries (adapting Peter Straub's novel) is somewhat awkwardly constructed - after what seems like a long process of getting Julia and the audience up to speed on the house's potential ghost, she shifts her attitude and actions very quickly - it is very nicely executed. Where some directors might have gone for explicit violence, Richard Loncraine goes the less-is-more route and lets the audience focus on what was done rather than how it looked. Ghost-story and divorce-story material are balanced nicely, with both enhanced by a fine Colin Towns score (his first). Loncraine and cinematographer Peter Hannan also do a superlative job of shooting the movie in dark and near-dark conditions; the night is palpable and enveloping without ever obscuring what is going on.

That the audience at this screening could see this from a transfer somewhere between DVD and HDTV quality indicates how impressive some of the movie's craft is. That it had to is terribly unfortunate. "The Haunting of Julia" is not exactly a classic, but it's also too good a film to be lost, or even forgotten.

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originally posted: 08/05/12 17:08:46
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2012 series, click here.

User Comments

8/05/09 Alicia Not nearly as good as the similarly themed classic "Don't Look Now." 3 stars
3/30/08 Lucia morciano A great & very creepy film.i would love to buy it video or dvd.but seems very hard to find. 5 stars
5/08/06 randall mccloud great feel and music. An almost cult type film. 4 stars
11/18/05 Michael Bourne fantastic loved it want it on dvd NOW. 5 stars
8/02/04 louis carrasquillo great film can't wait to buy on dvd 5 stars
7/08/04 liza creepy 5 stars
3/16/04 louis carrasquillo Would like to see it released on dvd 5 stars
2/28/04 Carmen Zavislake A must see for those who love the supernatural genre! 4 stars
1/24/04 Hebgbzz Quiet suspense, creepy, great little film. 5 stars
11/22/03 Charles Tatum Creepy 5 stars
5/19/03 Jeannie Karlsen I have to say it's one of my favorite's, granted I love low budget B movies. 5 stars
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  11-Sep-1981 (R)


  02-Feb-1981 (M)

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