Audrey Rose (1977)
I’d never seen this tale of reincarnation till now but it’s always held a place in my memory banks thanks to an eerie book cover I remember lying around the house growing up. I guess my Mother probably read it at the time of it’s release in pocket novel form. Some images just seem to stay with you from your formative years.
The book’s writer De Felitta also did the screenplay for this Robert Wise directed effort that gives it the “old exorcist try” in the early scenes before going in directions I hadn’t expected.
The happily married Marsha Mason and John Beck have a daughter Ivy, played by Susan Swift. They seem to be a perfectly normal family but when Anthony Hopkins begins hanging about in the background and gradually making his presence known, other worldly events are about to tear down there home.
Hopkins is a firm believer in reincarnation. Through a tragic auto accident years prior he lost his wife and young daughter Audrey Rose. After years of study and research, he has tracked the soul of his daughter to it’s new life form which happens to be the daughter of Mason and Beck. Not surprisingly, they believe Hopkins to be some kind of a nut case. On the other hand, could there be something to these nightmares that their daughter seems to be experiencing with regularity?
In exorcist fashion, this leads to one of the films more harrowing scenes when the young girl has a classic “freak out” nightmare banging on windows and apparently trying to escape a fire. Hopkins daughter died of a fire while trapped in an automobile. And so the goosebumps grow. More so when Hopkins is on hand to calm the girl down by calling her Audrey Rose and telling her to come to Da Da.
Mason is slowly becoming a believer while her hubby Beck wants Hopkins out and gone from their lives.
What I didn’t expect in this probably thriller was for it to take a left hand turn towards a courtroom battle. Hopkins is on trial for attempted kidnapping while at the same time the case revolves more so around the possibility of reincarnation. If such a thing can be proven then perhaps Hopkins can walk away a free man.
High class talent turned up for this so-so supernatural tale that leans more towards a scientific look at the goings on of the soul and just what happens to us when we leave our earthly bodies behind. Naturally it’s all conjecture but Hopkins is on hand in a very subdued performance to make us believers in the topic.
Is it just me or does the young girl, Susan Swift look a lot like Linda Blair?
John Hillerman, Robert Walden and Norman Lloyd also make appearances here to give us that comfortable feeling of, “Hey I know that face” but it’s Marsha Mason who comes off best. I thought she really excelled here as the distraught Mother who is seeing her little girl suffering untold horrors and having her marriage torn apart under the stress of the proceedings. It’s a tearful role with very little happiness for Mason along the way. Kind of broke my granite heart at times seeing her break down under the strain.
In the end I wouldn’t rank this one too highly on the list of Robert Wise films or even his thrillers for that matter. Best stick with The Haunting or The Body Snatcher for some real Wise directed thrills.
Still if you remember that book cover ……..