Something Evil (1972, TV-Movie)

Something Evil (1972, TV-Movie)

Synopsis:

A family buys a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania unaware that the property houses an evil supernatural entity.

Reaction & Thoughts:

An early TV production by then on-the-rise young filmmaker Steven Spielberg. You sense, almost immediately, that Spielberg is not your run-of-the-mill TV director — Something Evil, despite the obvious small budget, is extremely stylish.

Directed by Spielberg from an original screenplay by Robert Clouse (The Ultimate Warrior and The Amsterdam Kill), Something Evil is not perfect, but it does get the job done, and the actors are pretty good — Sandy Dennis (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and Darren McGavin (The Natural) are very convincing as the married couple confronting paranormal activity.

Something Evil feels like a test run for the Spielberg’s 1980s classic Poltergeist. The two movies share many plot points. Here Spielberg finds very creative ways to create an atmosphere of mystery. He doesn’t have expensive state-of-the-art special effects at his disposal, but Spielberg, with the help of cameraman Bill Butler (two gentlemen would later work together again to make a little film called Jaws), build suspense using clever editing and funky camera angles.

Because it was a TV project scripted to fill a 90-minute spot, the narrative is a bit rushed thus some potentially interesting sub-plots are left unexplored. For example, Ralph Bellamy’s (His Girl Friday) character — he plays an older guy interested in the occult — could have benefited from more screen time.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Something Evil probably won’t appeal to younger viewers used to fast-paced and gory chillers. I, however, grew up in a time when these kind of movies dominated the airwaves so I enjoyed it. Color, 73 minutes, Not Rated.

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