Directed by George Edwards [Other horror films: N/A] & Gary Graver [Other horror films: Trick or Treats (1982), Moon in Scorpio (1987), Evil Spirits (1990)]
Apparently a spin-off of sorts of another horror film titled The Killing Kind (a fact I didn’t know until about halfway through the film), The Attic works fine as a standalone movie. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work nearly as well as a horror film.
Predominately The Attic is a drama, a depressing story of the day-to-day life of an older woman who has little in life but her bitter, wheelchair-bound father, her job as head librarian for 19 years, and a new friend, a young woman who reminds her much of herself from so long ago.
Really, it’s top-notch drama, and there are plenty of really moving scenes showcasing how utterly empty so much of Louise’s (played by Carrie Snodgress) life is. The music helps with this tone, and two songs, ‘Who Cares’ by Kelly Garrett and ‘Come Love Me Again’ by Christopher Callin, really bring out the somber tone of the film.
Because it’s primarily a drama, and dramas really aren’t my thing (no disrespect to the genre), I was moderately bored through a lot of The Attic. The story is perfectly engaging, but not being a drama fan, personally, I felt it dragged and dragged. It didn’t help that the film is an hour and 40 minutes long, and the best part isn’t until the finale, a ten-minute sequence or so.
Performance-wise, most of the main players do well. Carrie Snodgress (who later starred in the somewhat forgettable Trick or Treats in 1982) was great here, and really came across as a woman living with constant despair, beaten down into submissiveness by an overbearing and bitter father. The father, played by Ray Milland, was a rather despicable character, and Milland did really well playing him. Others who stood out include Ruth Cox (who played perhaps the only really good character here) and Frances Bay (the grandmother from Happy Gilmore).
As good as the performances tended to be, though, the fact remains that until the finale, we get so very few horror sequences. Generally, they come in the form of Louise imagining striking out against her father (one such fantasy had a gorilla strangle him, which was perhaps the most fun this movie had to offer). The story’s downbeat and decent, but without the horror elements to pull me in, I just can’t really give this one that good a rating. The conclusion, though without any real big shock, was certainly decent, though.