The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane – 1976
Review by Wayne Malin
The type of film Hollywood wouldn’t touch today,
13 year old Rynn (Jodie Foster) lives in a huge old house with her father on the outskirts of the “village” (I don’t think the place is ever named). She has to deal with mean old Mrs. Hallet (Alexis Smith) who got them the house and her child molesting son Frank (Martin Sheen). Rynn also meets Mario (Scott Jacoby) a teenager around her age and falls in love. But why is it that nobody ever sees her father? And what exactly IS in that fruit cellar?
The plausibility here is tough to swallow–I find it very hard to believe that a 13 year old girl could keep up an entire house, pay off all the bills, get alcohol (HOW did she??) and NOBODY figures out what’s going on! Still this movie works–if you can buy the premise. It’s a slow (but never dull) psychological thriller. There’s only a little blood and no sudden shocks like they have in horror films today. It’s well-directed in a truly beautiful location. It has a good score too and has a very somber, quiet tone that does work on you. The acting is mostly good. Smith and Sheen are both obnoxiously slimy as the villains. Jacoby tries too hard to be cute and funny and quickly becomes annoying. As for Foster–I’m really torn. On one hand she says her lines with utter conviction–you believe every word. On the other hand she’s totally emotionless–nothing ever shows on her face. That is explained (kind of) but just a little emotion would have helped.
This movie has a PG rating but has some quick, casual female nudity by Foster (or her double). Today it might get an R rating considering it’s made quite clear that she’s having sex with Jacoby and Sheen’s character wouldn’t be quite as evil. Still–this wouldn’t be done today. It’s too quiet and challenges the audience to actually think. So, implausible plot aside, this is a creepy little thriller. I give it an 8.