Limited Edition of “The Haunting of Julia” Available at Amazon.com!
This morning was like any other as the Julia rustles up breakfast for her all-business husband Magnus and their lively vivacious daughter Kate, but when Kate violent chokes on a piece of apple and Julie performs a bloody, untried tracheotomy in a state of panic in order to save her daughter’s life, their lives are forever changed as Katie dies in Julia’s arms. For weeks, Julia’s melancholic depression commits her to hospital care. When she’s ready for release per the Doctor’s recommendation, Julia avoids returning to Magnus as their relationship was never a mutually loving one but rather a normal route connected by the presence of their daughter Kate. In order to restart her life, Julia separates from a controlling Magnus and purchases a magnificent London house only to then be plagued by ghostly occurrences she suspects is the work of her late daughter. What Julia comes to find out is the troubling history of her newfound home.
Mia Farrow solidified herself as a genre actress by starring in the archetype for films revolving around the prince of darkness, Satan, in 1968 with “Rosemary’s Baby.” Unlikely seeing herself as a prominent woman of a notable rite horror, Farrow quickly understood her value in the genre as a complex female lead in the unsettling and gothic protuberance atmosphere style. Nearly a decade later, Farrow stars in the Richard Loncraine directed “The Haunting of Julia,” similar only to the menacing supernatural child component but digs deeper in manipulative complacency, psychological guilt, and of that distorted reality created by the stout motherhood connection. The “Slade of Flame” director set his sights off of Rock’N’Roll inspired dramas around the ugliness of the music industry and onto the filmic adaptation of the Peter Straub novel “Julia,” penned by the Dave Humphries and “Xtro” trilogy director Harry Bromley Davenport. The joint United Kingdom and Canadian production, titled originally as “Full Circle” in the UK, is produced by Peter Fetterman (“The Exorcism of Hugh”), under Fetterman Productions, and Alfred Pariser (“Shivers”) of the Canadian Film Development Corporation.
Mia Farrow’s distinct reactions and acting style very much engulfs the majority of horror experienced in “The Haunting of Julia,” as well as exhibited in “Rosemary’s Baby.” The glassy eyed, long stares, the frightened, coiled emotions that swirl seemingly out of control, and the switch-gear ability to be strong and compliant in tense-riddled situations that just only involve herself in the scene. While “Rosemary’s Baby’ and “The Haunting of Julia” may exact the same gothic aperture for child-themed horror and both are adapted literary works, “The Haunting of Julia” unfolds not in the anticipating of child birth but rather postmortem with the aftermath affliction of a child’s sudden and terrible demise that occurred in the frantic mother’s misguided embrace to take a knife right to her child’s jugular in hopes of dislodging an air denying obstruction. This opening scene shocks us right into a grim framework that simultaneously divides trust and empathy for Julia as circumstances unveil what we might suspect all along, that Julia’s mental health suffered immensely. What pushes Julia into undue stress is her controlling, dispassionate husband Magnus. Played by “Black Christmas’s” Keir Dullea. Dullea pulls off the unsympathetic impassive father who just lost a child and can’t see the underlying psychological unrest his wife suffers. In short, Magnus attempts to gatekeep Julia’s damaged psyche by trying to strong arm her back into normalcy, even going as far as manipulating Julia and his own sister Lily (Jill Bennett, “The Skull”) into slipping his foot into the door with a wife who fled from his grasp as soon as released from the hospital for essentially shutting down after their daughter’s death. That toxic pressure is coupled with the seemingly unnatural incidences in her new home that clash her old life, chained to an unconsciously broken family, with her new life that seeks to decompress from a pair of diverse traumas. “The Haunting of Julia” rounds out the cast with Tom Conti (“Blind Revenge”), Mary Morris (“Prison Without Bars”), Anna Wing (“Xtro”), Pauline Jameson (“Night Watch”), Peter Sallis (“Frankenstein: The True Story”), Susan Porrett (“Plunkett & Macleane), Edward Hardwicke (“Venom”), and Sophie Ward (“Book of Blood”).
More or less forgotten by U.S. audiences due to no fault of the film’s own acclamatory measure or the audiences willing participation, the international produced “The Haunting of Julia” wasn’t publicized in the U.S. despite the two American leads – Mia Farrow and Keir Dullea. Richard Loncraine’s film has incredible merit to the idea of a mother’s loss within the construct of gothic horror, which, in another aspect of unfathomable irony, resembled more closely to the American gothic style of the supernatural sequestered dark house. Yet, this house is in London, wedged in like row homes, but as mentioned numerous times in the film, the house has distinction and grandeur that overlooks the buried ghostly history of the previous owners. Julia absorbs the stories, filters through them, and comes to believe her own daughter is either trying to reach out to her or is hellbent on revenge for the amateur hour tracheotomy. Loncraine does the phenomenal job of shocking our core with the early choking death scene of Julia’s daughter but once that dust settles, the pacing becomes more rhythmic to the point of building, slowly, Julia’s encounters with unknown forces that, at first, are just seemingly bizarre happenstances of left on bedroom plug-in radiators and playground visions of a girl that resembles her daughter cutting up another kid’s pet turtle. These events play into their evident conspicuousness to push audiences deep into Julia’s mysterious milieu, officially sealing something isn’t right with the clairvoyant Ms. Flood’s scarred-screaming vision of a bloody child. Julie become engrossed into learning the truth, eager to determine if that child is her late daughter and is fed tidbits of the house’s history that not only continues her own investigation but other research into other house tragedies that fork-split her presumptions. As all this noise tornadoes around Julia, the stories, the occurrences, the deaths, viewers will never deduce to a reason closer to home, to Julia herself, until possibly too late at the end with a grisly open-ended finale that what Julia has been experience may have been done at her own forlorn hand.
Atmospherically sound, undoubtedly creepy, and spearheaded by strong performances, “The Haunting of Julia” is the unspoken heroine of late 1970s supernatural horror – until now. Imprint and Via Vision of Australia release a limited edition, high definition 1080p, 2-disc Blu-ray set with an AVC encoded BD50 of a new 4K scan transfer of the original 35mm negative. Presented in an anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1, the 4K scan is super sharp with virtually no compression issues on the formatted storage. Blacks, and negative spaces in general, are rich and void, despite Peter Hannan’s low-contrast and hazy surreal veneer that definitely plays into a psychotronic dreaminess. The resolution goes unaltered, and the natural grain maintains the original theatrical presentation for a revered 4k transfer. The English LPCM 2.0 mono track mix audibly delineates a viable one input split to make the dialogue and all other tracks comprehendible. Despite some slight here and there hissing, dialogue is amped up nicely for better resolved results that still remains mingled with the ambience in an all for one, one for all audio format. “Space Trucker’s” Colin Towns’s insidious and distinctly composed soundtrack reaches into the recesses of soul and strikes at the very nerve of fear with an unsettling score, perfectly suited for a mother drowning in the pitfalls of a supernatural sanctum. Optional English Hard-of-Hearing subtitles are available. The first disc special features include two audio commentaries – one with director Richard Loncraine and Simon Fitzjohn and the second, brand new, commentary with authors Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons, new interviews with composer Colin Towns Breaking the Circle, cinematographer Peter Hannan Framing the Circle, and Hugh Harlow Joining the Circle, a new video essay by film historian Kat Ellinger Motherhood & Madness: Mia Farrow and the Female Gothic, the original trailer, and an option to play the film with either “The Haunting of Julia” or “Full Circle” opening title. The second disc is a compact disc of Colin Town’s 11-track score featuring 20 minutes of previously unheard music out of 60:52 of music. The limited-edition set comes with a neat lenticular cover on front of the hard box of what we assume is Julia’s ghost glaring at you from all angles as her eyes follow you. Inside is a clear Blu-ray snapper that’s a little thicker than your traditional snapper and comes with a built-in secondary disc holder. The cover art is simply Mia Farrow cowering outside the bathroom door but the reversible cover displays an original “Full Circle” poster as the front image. The disc arts are illustrative and compositions with the feature presentation disc the same as hard box lenticular without it being lenticular and CD pressed with Mia Farrow’s face in the background and a child’s cymbal banging toy in the foreground. Also in the hard box is a 44-page booklet feature an historical background essay by critic/writer Sean Hogan that has black and white and color photos and various poster art. The film, which comes in as Imprint catalogue # 218, runs at 97 minutes, is unrated, and, is assumed, for region A playback as it’s an Australian release – there is no indication on the package. “The Haunting of Julia” is Mia Farrow’s shining, yet lost effort post Roman Polanksi and is a remarkable look at subtle disconnection from extreme guilt when in every corner, every sign, is thought to be about your lost child.