By Dark Starr

Arrow films has recently released a somewhat forgotten 1970s film in a new deluxe Blu-Ray edition. The movie is titled "Audrey Rose," and it was originally released in 1977. It is not a horror movie really, although it does have some horror elements. I'd consider it to be more of a thriller, but it is definitely spooky.

The main premise of the film centers on a character named Elliot Hoover who is played brilliantly by Anthony Hopkins. Hoover starts following a family around because he's convinced that their daughter Ivy is the reincarnation of his daughter Audrey Rose who died in a horrific car crash when she was five years old.

That plot point is further complicated by the fact that Ivy is having terrible nightmares. Those dreams are so bad that she gets out of bed and starts acting out, at times harming herself in the process.

One thing I'd like to mention about those nightmares is that the actress playing the character, Susan Swift, does an amazing job in the role during those scenes. Although the character she was playing was 11 years old, Swift was 13 at the time, making her performance that much more impressive because of her young age. She really makes the incidents seem real.

In some ways the early parts of the movie make me think of both "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby." The "Exorcist" connection comes from the transformation that the dream spells produce in Ivy. That said, while the "Exorcist" was more over the top with effects, this is definitely subtler and all about Swift selling it. The "Rosemary's Baby" connection is more about the setting and the mood than anything specific.

This movie has almost a "Law and Order" dichotomy with the first part of the film addressing the relationship between the family, Ivy's nightmares and Elliot Hoover's beliefs about who Ivy is. From there, though, it shifts to a court-room drama, but one in which metaphysical concepts play out as part of the defense.

I think that the first section works better than the second does, but both are integral to the film. To me the biggest issue with the court room drama part of the story is that it really pushes the religious angle to the point of feeling a little preachy. I'm not a fan of having religious concepts pushed on me whether they are Christian or, in this case, Hindu. It feels a times like it's trying to create converts.

Mind you, I say that as someone who has actually explored the Hindu religion in his own life and pursuit of spiritual wisdom. I remember thinking when one of the witnesses on the stand talks about that Bhagavad-Gita, "I wonder how many people watching this movie have actually read that book." I would have my own hand raised as I've done so twice in my life-time. So, when I address that overt religious angle, it's not about the specific religion, but rather the way the religious aspect is being pushed.

The other issue I have is that the epilogue portion of the film just seems a bit too cheery given the rest of the movie. It sort of throws the whole spooky aspect out the window. Beyond those criticisms, though, this is a fascinating film that really works very well.

The Blu-Ray includes a number of featurettes in addition to the usual commentary. I didn't find most of those to be all that captivating, but they do cover a lot of angles of the movie. Then again, bonus features like that are generally not the kind of thing you are likely to watch more than once or twice. The movie itself is always the entree of the meal, and this delivers a tasty morsel.