Deadly Little Girl!
Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) lives in a house in a small town that her father rents from the local rich lady. Her father is nowhere to be seen and as people come over to visit, Rynn makes excuses about his absence, telling each person a different lie. One of the men who comes by on Halloween night is Frank Hallet (Martin Sheen), a grown adult man who is the son of the woman who owns the house. He is a reputed pervert, into young girls. Rynn senses this immediately and uses her wits and charms to keep him at bay until Frank’s sons show up from trick or treating. Frank leaves, but it’s obvious he has his eye on Rynn. She goes on about her life, like nothing is the matter. She is determined to live in the house and keep it comfortable and safe, even when it is evident that something has happened to her father, and she is on her own. But prying eyes and curious people keep drifting around, trying to catch her in a lie. A boy a little older than her comes across her one day and befriends her. They get along great and soon, Rynn, lets him in on her secret. He’s the only person she can trust, and she finds herself falling in love with him. Too bad Frank is lurking around, waiting for his moment to strike…
This is a little film I always somehow missed seeing. I loved the cover art of the VHS copies I’d see as a teen, but I didn’t trust it for some reason. I think because Jodie Foster was in it and I was always in the mood for something nasty and gory, not something thoughtful and mainstream. I wish I had seen it earlier. Foster is really young in this and she is terrific. Tough, smart, resourceful, distrusting, but not perfect. She makes a lot of mistakes, ones that will get her caught if not for the help of her boyfriend. Sheen is also really good in this as the smiling, beguiling, slimy piece of shit molester-stalker. You know instantly something is wrong with him, and he’s so menacing in some scenes you want to scream at Rynn to run away. But she manages to stay one step ahead of him, even when he throws her a curveball or two. Turns out, this movie is pretty damned gritty and nasty in its own, more subtle way. This film relies on the script and the smart performances, as well as some beautifully shot scenes. Man, there’s nothing like 70s cinema, the way the film looks, the composition of the shots, the general atmosphere and feel. There’s a gorgeous, quiet scene with Rynn walking through the small town, snow flurries falling, that is just wonderous to behold. It’s only a tiny moment, but it shows the talent both behind, and in front of, the cameras, all in just a few scant seconds.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane isn’t the kind of movie that’s going to get you with its jump scares or gross you out, but it will make you very nervous and disgusted. There are scenes where you’ll be chewing your fingernails while you sit at the edge of your seat. This is very quiet horror, the kind that’s really hard to get right, and here, they get it darned-near perfect. This is a good flick for a cold afternoon when you’re stuck at home because of bad weather. It won’t thrill you, but it will leave you with chills that will resonate for days to come.