Picks and Pans Review: The Haunting of Sarah Hardy

updated 06/05/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/05/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

USA (Wed., May 31, 9 P.M. ET)

C-

This two-hour, made-for-TV movie is an attempt to create an old-fashioned, romantic, Hitchcockian thriller. Most of the action takes place, as it should, in an isolated mansion on a fog-shrouded bluff overlooking the sea. Unfortunately the writing is as murky as the weather. Most mysteries have holes in them, but this one could pass for a golf course. Sarah Hardy—a beautiful, vulnerable (aren't they all?) young heiress—fled the family mansion some time ago. But now she moves back to the place where, as a child, she watched her insane mother drown herself in the ocean on the day of her father's funeral.

Sela (Hello Again) Ward stars as Sarah, who brings her new husband, Michael (War and Remembrance) Woods, with her to the mansion. Strange things begin happening, and Sarah fears she's going mad. Somebody's spooking her to get her money, but who? Suspects include the family housekeeper (Polly Bergen), Sarah's friend (Morgan Fairchild), Sarah's trusted shrink (Roscoe Born) and her mother (Janet Penner), whose body was never found. You don't need Jeane Dixon to see the outcome. The hokey plot, with its ending right out of When a Stranger Calls, could be excused if the characters weren't so one-dimensional. There's no sense of locale, either. Although filmed in and around Portland, Ore., it could be Anywhere, U.S.A. There is one old-fashioned quality we can be thankful for: It isn't violent.

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