Over the last several nights I’ve had the pleasure of viewing one of the most surprisingly interesting movies I’ve seen in a long time. The Haunting of Julia or “Full Circle” was filmed in 1977 but wasn’t released in the US until 1981. It came right off the heels of the Rosemary’s Baby craze with Mia Farrow playing the frail, affected and wilting little flower. Unfortunately this movie didn’t have Ruth Gordon in it, but it manages to be good anyways.
It all starts when Julia (Farrow) is in the kitchen with her husband and daughter, Kate. Kate’s a little spitfire of a child, barking orders at her father and taking apples without permission. I was mortified at her demeanor but I knew she was about to die, so I couldn’t really hold it against her. And sure enough, she chokes on the forbidden fruit and dies. Not only dies, mind you…but is arguably killed by her pompous, know-it-all father, Magnus (Keir Dullea of “2001″ fame) and her crazy, hysterical mother. I say this because Magnus is a prick…and when he sees his daughter choking, he somewhat calmly goes over to the phone and dials for an ambulance while his daughter is writhing on the floor. He definitely could have done more! Dammit! And then Julia, in a panic…well…she puts the final nail in the coffin so to speak. That poor kid never had a chance. I’m surprised she made it to 8 years old, honestly.
Julia leaves Magnus after Katie dies since it’s implied he’s just using her for her trust fund monies. She moves into her own creepy little (and by little, I mean enormous and way too much space for a single woman…if only we all had a magical trust fund) house and creepy things start happening. Mind you, I was pretty sleepy while watching this. And my girlfriend was grabbing my arm every two seconds and screaming for no reason (she does that often, sometimes in awkward situations which leads to lots of mortified stares from strangers). So I was distracted and sleepy. But I didn’t really see anything creepy that happened more than a heater that just wouldn’t turn off and that she locks herself out of the house and maybe there are some weird noises? If I missed something, please tell me. But Julia convinces herself something odd and supernatural may be happening.
There’s something about Mia Farrow’s performance…I can never tell if she’s just phoning in her performances or if she’s pure genius with her distant, disinterested demeanor. There’s such nuance (or maybe her performance is so flat any minor fluctuations at all I want to consider nuance…I really want to root for the crazy lady who married Frank Sinatra AND Woody Allen and has 15 children!) in the scene with her husband’s sister, Lily. Julia emphatically insists that she is better off without Magnus and Lily implores her to reconsider. Farrow just has this way about her in that scene…I can’t describe it well. Take a look at it and let me know if you agree. Then there’s a scene where she has an emotional breakdown kneeling next to a bathtub and her face stays perfectly rosy without any of the usual snot and tears that accompany an emotional breakdown. It’s at those times I wonder if she’s phoning it in. Who knows?
So yes…where was I? Her sister-in-law is trying to get her back with Magnus and when Julia gives her a resounding NO! then Julia admits she thinks the house is haunted, but even living in a haunted house is better than life with Magnus. Lily suggests to Julia that she allow a team of psychics to go into the house and do their thing. Apparently Lily’s into this sort of thing and has weekly meetings with these psychics. Lily isn’t married nor does she hold a job and depends on Julia’s trust fund…so I guess she has to find some way to pass the time. Julia accepts…which leads to my favorite part of the movie…
According to imdb, Mrs. Fludd is played by Anna Wing and she’s STILL making films at 98 years old! You go, Anna Wing!
Mrs. Fludd is a clairvoyant who tries to sense a presence in the house. When asked how she is paid, Mrs. Fludd firmly rejects the idea of being paid in cash for it “spoils the gift” or something to that effect. She is a quite jovial lady, firm in her convictions and I just love her. When Mrs. Fludd requests a spot of tea as payment, Julia says she only has coffee. No tea? C’mon…the lady accepts payment in tea and you offer her coffee? No wonder she ends up disgruntled.
Mrs. Fludd will have none of Julia’s hedonistic coffee pointing out that caffeine is a DRUG and she will have no part in drugs. No one has the heart to tell her, I guess, that tea also has caffeine. I wouldn’t tell her, either.
Before the séance Mrs. Fludd is a positive, happy woman:
Now that’s how you show an emotional breakdown! Take notes, Mia Farrow!
That pretty much sums up the séance…except that these women are there, too. They make far too short an appearance in the movie, in my opinion:
Half of the movie has some really effective music behind it. Half of the movie has something I like to call “music to go mad by”. And even though this is a horror movie, this is not a compliment.
All in all, the movie is very methodical and engaging. I had hunches as to what was going on, but was never entirely sure…and the ending was creep-tastic! I’d definitely recommend it, especially late at night, being sleep deprived after a long day, with a screaming woman in bed with you. There’s really no other way to watch it.