THE SENTINEL (1977)
Article 5411 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Michael Winner
Featuring Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Ava Gardner
What it is: The job interview from hell
A troubled model who once tried to commit suicide decides she’s not quite ready for marriage yet, so instead of staying with her boyfriend, she moves into her own apartment in an old house. The other residents she meets seem very strange, but then she discovers there’s only one other resident, a blind priest on the top floor. Then who did she meet…?
Practically every other write-up gives away a major revelation that doesn’t manifest itself until late in the movie, but it’s hard to fault them; after all, between the title and the ad campaign for this one, the marketing for the movie also gives away that same revelation. I rather wish it hadn’t; once you know the revelation, you can second guess a lot of events that happen in this movie long before the movie gives them away, and that rather ruins the fun a little. A lot of big names and familiar faces pop up, though many in little more than cameos; there’s Burgess Meredith, Ava Gardner, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, Jose Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, Eli Wallach, and soon-to-be stars Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Walken (who upstages everyone in every scene he’s in though he barely has any lines). There’s some creepy and bizarre moments here, but there’s also a bit of dead space, some plot elements that never coalesce, and an overabundance of unnecessary gore. All in all, it never quite comes together, though many of the ideas are interesting. It’s a nice try, but a misfire.