The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

Article 2099 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-14-2006
Posting Date: 5-12-2007
Directed by Nicolas Gessner
Featuring Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith

A 13-year old girl virtually lives by herself in a leased cottage; nobody has seen her father for months. It is obvious she has a secret to hide, and she has to contend with a nosy landlord and her son (a child molester) who wish to find out the truth.

Jodie Foster was one of the most accomplished child actors of all time, and she was capable of playing her roles with a maturity that was far beyond her years. This is one of those roles that only she could have played, and she is memorable and convincing as a girl who has been forced by circumstance to fend for herself in a hostile world where she finds it hard to trust anybody; even the friendly local policeman can’t really be trusted because of the secrets she harbors. Though this is to some extent a horror movie, to call it such really doesn’t do it justice. Yes, someone is keeping a dead body in the cellar in this one, but that person isn’t the real monster; that description belongs to Martin Sheen’s sadistic child molester, a man who plans to use the information he gathers to force the girl to do what he desires. Sheen is also excellent, and he is one of the creepiest and most hateful characters ever to appear in the movies. There’s a moment here and there that doesn’t work, especially when an unexpected character appears on the staircase, but for the most part, it is chillingly convincing. The final scene of the movie relies on one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it has a real poignancy here. largely because we’re not so sure that it was a trick, and though we know someone is going to die in the last scene, it doesn’t really matter who, if you think about it.


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