Symptoms (1974)


A shy young woman, played by Angela Pleasence (From Beyond the Grave), invites a friend, played by Lorna Heilbron (The Creeping Flesh), to her isolated country house, which is — figuratively and literally — full of skeletons.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Nicely paced slow burner. Symptoms offers nothing that we haven’t seen before  — e.g. Images (1972) and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976) — but I’m always game for these kind of psychological British shockers.

Symptoms works because its director, José Ramón Larraz (Vampyres), knows how to create and maintain a brooding atmosphere. Not much happens in the film, but Larraz is really good at suggesting that something frightening could happen at any moment — the anticipation game is played splendidly well by Larraz.

The story, written by Larraz and Stanley Miller, takes place in a secluded home in the countryside and you can almost smell the wet silage. The unmistakably bucolic mood is presented in a creepy manner. You say to yourself, “What’s going on here?” — Symptoms shows its cards slowly and confidently.

Angela Pleasence, the daughter of British character actor Donald Pleasence (John Carpenter’s Halloween) gives a deliciously unnerving performance (she inherited her dad’s penetrating eyes. I’m really surprised that she didn’t become a bigger movie actor. I really liked what she did here. She’s magnetic and mysterious in equal amounts.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Symptoms is hardly perfect film, but it is eerie and interesting. It reminded me of an old Hammer and/or Amicus movie and I mean it as a compliment. Good stuff for a late night movie viewing with a glass of wine. Color, 92 minutes, Rated R.


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