Picks and Pans Review: The Haunted
Oooh, spooky, campers. Of all the harum-scarum movies on TV this week, the most disturbing one is purportedly a true story.
Sally Kirkland and Jeffrey DeMunn star in this dramatization about the Smurl family, whose trials began in 1975, when they moved into a house in West Pittston, Pa., and encountered bizarre paranormal problems.
Initially there were little incidents: objects disappearing, doors slamming shut. But things got eerier, and apparitions began drilling through the living room. In the movie's most macabre scene, DeMunn is raped on the living-room floor by a demon.
Spurned by the church (this was, of course, before 20/20 got monster ratings for showing an exorcism), the Smurls turn to the Warrens, a parapsychologist couple who find four distinct spirits in the house.
Given the subject matter, the performances by the entire cast are notably natural. Kirkland, in particular, brings startling conviction to her role as an ordinary woman driven bonkers. The supernatural special effects are generally good, and director Robert Mandel pushes this movie up high on the goosebump meter.