When you’re suicidal and the wife of the guy you’re having an affair with mysteriously dies, it’s only normal that you wouldn’t feel ready to move in with that guy and marry him, right? For model Alison Parker in the classic horror The Sentinel, finding an affordable apartment in Brooklyn Heights is exactly what her life needed. However, upon moving in and experiencing paranormal phenomena she discovers why it was so easy to land her dream home.
The 1977 film stars Cristina Raines as Alison, Chris Sarandon, John Carradine, and a special appearance by a young Jeff Goldblum (for the ladies). There are several legitimately creepy moments throughout, and a tense, frightening final act, reaffirming my beliefs that the film is a horror classic.
Before Alison embarks on her journey in her new apartment, she learns that her father has passed away. She visits her childhood home and we are given a glimpse into her teenage years, as well as her troubled relationship with her father. When Alison was younger, she arrived home to find her father in bed, naked, with two women. The scarring encounter with her father was enough to make Alison lose her faith and make her first suicide attempt.
For me, the scene was extremely creepy and reminiscent to the scene in The Shining where Wendy sees the man in the bear suit. No one wants to walk into a menage a trois of 3 out of shape, middle-aged people, ESPECIALLY if one of those people is your dad.
That scene set the mood for the rest of the film, and I knew that things were most likely going to get worse as we discover more about Alison and accompany her on her journey. And things did get worse for Alison. Much worse.
When she walks into her neighbors apartment, she meets two odd women who have no problem masturbating in front of her. I CAN’T. I was so uncomfortable for Alison, but girl took the situation fairly well. She just giggled and attempted to look away. She only really got offended once she asked the women what they do, and they replied that they just pleasure each other all day. Ok, well, that’s great. If we could all make a living just pleasuring each other all day, the world would be a much easier place.
Later on in the film, Alison keeps hearing strange noises and fears that there is someone upstairs above her. When she investigates on her own, the audience is given a shocking reveal of a ghostly figure as he pops out of nowhere and walks past Alison as though she weren’t there. It turns out that the figure was Alison’s dead father, and he attacks her. The scene was terrifying for how subtle it is in the reveal, and for the fact that the ghosts seemed to be able to do harm to the living.
After all of Alison’s encounters and strange behaviors, she eventually learns that the apartment building is the gateway to hell–AND GUESS WHAT? IT NEEDS A NEW GATEKEEPER.
The final act of the film is eery and the casting for the minions of hell is spot on. Alison has no escape and she’s forced to witness haunting scene after haunting scene, and the audience gets to experience it all with her.
I really enjoyed The Sentinel throughout. It was an interesting take on the concept of faith, good versus evil, and the devil. My only concern was that the movie did seem a little too long, but I felt like the payoff in the end made it all worth it.
The film did a great job at establishing Alison’s character and making you like and feel for her. Plus, THE FASHION WAS ON POINT. Can we talk about how homegirl slightly resembles Olivia Munn (my fav) and was a total babe throughout the movie? She may have been facing the forces of evil, but her outfits were always perfect to the T. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of a final girl.