You know what I love about Mia Farrow? It's the way she appears so vulnerable and fragile- what with her slight frame and her look of bewilderment and her delicate features- but she's got such a goddamn spine to her. I find myself wanting to protect her (or, I suppose I should say, characters like Rosemary Woodhouse and Julia Lofting), but when push comes to shove she proves she won't be pushed or shoved.
And so after the tragic death of her young daughter and a breakdown, Julia ups and abandons her husband Magnus (Keir Dullea) on the spur of the moment as she leaves the hospital. Before long, Julia is...wait for it...haunted. But by what? The spirit of her daughter? Her own guilt? The spirit of the house's former resident? Unlike nearly every other supernatural flick on the market, The Haunting of Julia keeps all the goings-on vague and subtle...so much so that we're hard-pressed to discern whether or not there's any haunting going on at all. There aren't any Poltergeist-style furniture-flying-around-on-its-own theatrics to be found; sure, there's some blood shed and casualties, but it's more about atmosphere or, as Julia puts it, the "feeling of hate" that engulfs her home.
Still, what's a good ghost story without some sort of mystery to be solved (not to mention that since it's a 70s film, there's a good old fashioned séance to boot)? And boy, Julia uncovers a good one- a downright chilling one, with a ghost that could give The Ring's Samara a lesson or two in evil. A note to wayward ghosts everywhere: I'm not fucking helping you, you're on your own.
The Haunting of Julia is a quiet film that will get under your skin more that it will outright scare you, and if quiet-n-subdued ain't your bag, it will undoubtedly get on your nerves more than it will get under your skin. But if you're in the mood for some precious blonde daughter dies early on and does she come back as a ghost or is her mother just mad with guilt? horror (that's totally a subgenre, you know), pair this up with Don't Look Now and go nuts!
Aim for the Head
Life Between Frames