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The Haunting of Julia ("Full Circle")

“Appealingly creepy, understated and compelling” — Adam Groves, FRIGHT.COM

Guilt ran through 1970s genre films like a parasite, eating away at the psyches of female characters, who oscillated between domestic responsibility and the desire for autonomy. A perfect, devastating example of this cinematic guilty conscience can be found in Richard Loncraine’s THE HAUNTING OF JULIA (also known as FULL CIRCLE), which sees Mia Farrow as the titular distraught mother of a child she has accidentally killed while performing an emergency tracheotomy.

When Julia emerges from the hospitalization that ensues, she immediately leaves her husband Magnus (Keir Dullea) and goes looking for a house of her own, to be alone with her grief. Augmenting pressure from her aggressive husband and his meddling sister to return to her unhappy marriage is the fact that Julia’s new home is the kind of immense, sinister house that undoubtedly fuels nightmares and paranoia. Julia decides to investigate the former inhabitants of the house, and discovers that a little girl named Olivia once lived there, a girl so beautiful that she could get away with anything — including the murder of another child. Julia starts to feel the presence of this little girl in the house with her, but is not threatened; she identifies with the child’s murderous guilt, playing the roles of both child and the child’s redeemer. She is going to help the terrible child find peace.

This British-Canadian co-production was one of the more esteemed tax-shelter projects of Canuxploitation’s golden age, but sadly has virtually become a lost film, due to its unavailability on home video (apart from a long out-of-print 1984 VHS release), the lack of film prints in theatrical circulation (this exhibition copy was telecined specifically for this screening by Library and Archives Canada from a 35mm preservation master) and vague copyright registration issues that have prevented a legitimate restoration, making this a rare chance to see the film on the big screen. Hosting one of horror’s most memorable soundtracks, courtesy of synth-whiz Colin Towns, THE HAUNTING OF JULIA is an unsung masterpiece of dirgeful restraint with a shattering performance by frequent movie-headcase Mia Farrow.

— Kier-La Janisse