Barbara Hershey stars in this controversial horror/sci-fi drama as a seemingly sane mother and recent divorcee who believes an unseen entity in her house is violently raping her. Ron Silver is the shrink who is concerned, perhaps too much, but thinks it’s all in her head. Meanwhile, Hershey starts exploring alternate theories as to what is going on, with George Coe and Jacqueline Brooks playing parapsychologists.
This is an extremely disturbing film concerning an extremely disturbing subject, based on a real case. Some suggest that the film is exploitative (startling FX for the time, were used to simulate Hershey’s breasts being manipulated by an unseen force, with a monotonous but effective Heavy Metal-ish musical riff (by 'Elm Street' composer Charles Bernstein) accompanying the graphic scenes), but there is nothing I found here that was not entirely necessary. It simply shows what (allegedly) happened, and what (allegedly) happened was not very nice at all.
I personally found the film to be one of the most effective horror films of the early 1980s. This is largely due to the fascinating, if ugly story, and especially due to the very brave, utterly believable lead performance given by Hershey. In fact, I think it’s the best work she’s ever done. It’s a truly loony story, but Hershey’s gut-wrenching performance grounds it.
It is true that the last quarter is the least interesting part of the film, as it turns into a bit of a 'Poltergeist' flick, with mediocre FX (and makeup by Stan Winston), but I’d argue that overall the film is far more effective than that admittedly fun Tobe Hooper flick (Or to be more precise, that Steven Spielberg flick Hooper was hired to direct).
Not for all tastes, this is a confronting horror film but in my view one of the standouts of the period. Well-acted, fascinating, and positively chilling.