Symptoms (1974)

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A very atmospheric and textured (mmm that grainy 35mm photography) slice of British gothic filmmaking from 1974. This movie represented the UK at Cannes back in the day before disappearing into almost total obscurity. Symptoms has finally been rediscovered with the BFI dusting off a restored print for home-video release. It’s a nice little curiosity. Angela Pleasence (Donald’s daughter) has a great face for the genre and you aren’t in the slightest bit surprised when her psyche cracks into a load of nutty stabbing and psychosexual overtones. The biggest problem I had with this movie is that it is practically a beat-for-beat remake of Polanski’s Repulsion. The famous mirror-scare is even recycled verbatim. What could have been a very evocative and unique thriller instead feels like a pale imitation. The first watch, therefore, becomes just an experience of going through the motions. Still, it delivers visually and captures a sinister side of rural Britain that is rarely put on display. Not bad. Not great. But well made and performed.

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