Part of the 1970s horror cycle caused by the enormous success of The Exorcist, Audrey Rose is a more intelligent, nuanced example of the genre, which is both its blessing and its curse. Robert Wise has directed in a relatively understated manner, yet still provides a fair share of chilling moments. Working from a script that is far too wordy -- and, to its credit, tries to rationally discuss the concept of reincarnation while maintaining a horror framework -- Wise shrewdly makes the wordiness an advantage. He keeps the focus on the dialogue -- or, often, monologue -- while subtly overemphasizing ordinary movements onscreen to create tension or suspense. Wise also gives the film a visual style, and the snowman scene at the school is particularly well done. He is helped by Anthony Hopkins' intense, sorrowful performance, as well as Susan Swift's impressive turn in the title role. Ultimately, the script's pretensions and its stuffiness keep it from being the first-class thriller it could have been, but it's still a decent alternative to better-known thrillers.
by Craig Butler review