For a film that is nearly as old as me The Sentinel boasts a fairly recognisable cast. Chris Sarandon, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, Burgess Meredith (Rocky’s trainer, killed by Mr T), Jerry Orbach (Law & Order guy) and Christopher Walken all get roles.
But the film is not really about any of them. Alison is an up and coming model in the big city. After some psychiatric issues and the death of her father in extremely unpleasant circumstances Alison faces a personal fork in the road. She decides to refuse the housewife route and rather than move in with lawyer boyfriend Michael (Chris Sarandon) she looks for her own apartment.
What she finds is beyond her wildest dreams, lush, well appointed and with a terrific view. It is also cheaper than cheap. Too good to be true some might say…
Her new neighbours in the small apartment building are quite eccentric to say the least – one ‘pleases herself’ right in front of Alison upon their very first introduction – but they seem fairly harmless.
In the days and nights that follow Alison has extremely vivid nightmares and feels constantly sick during her waking hours. She also hears noises in adjoining and upstairs apartments at odd hours. Apartments that according to the real estate agent are supposed to be vacant except for the top apartment that is manned by a solitary ex-priest who sits
motionless at the window for hours – days – on end.
After another especially freaky turn of events Alison tells Michael of her suspicions. Michael, being aware of her earlier issues is sceptical, but after some research into Alison’s supposed co-habitants in the building he decides that maybe the apartment wasn’t such a
bargain after all. Especially one key fact about the location that wasn’t outlined in the listing…
Being a 70s horror film The Sentinel is hardly wall to wall scares and gore, in fact it is quite tame by today’s standards. But it has two things going for it; firstly, the build up is decent
and the initial BIG scare scene is chilling and grossly effective. Secondly, the finale is quite frankly nuts, with some of the more bizarre looking characters seen in a film, horror or otherwise. (And I might point out that most of the actors didn’t wear prosthetics or makeup – they were unfortunately quite genuinely deformed.)
So while the bulk of The Sentinel plays out like any number of is she/isn’t she crazy? horror flicks, those two scenes alone warrant a look. If you can find it that is.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. The Sentinel is a slow burn interspersed with two freaky scenes. It might seem slow to today’s horror buff but it deserves at least one viewing.
P.S. It was only after finding the poster for this review that I realised the tagline essentially gave away the ‘twist’ in the film. Seems clumsy.