THE ATTIC (1980) Reviews and overview

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’13 steps to terror’
The Attic is a 1980 American horror drama film directed by George Edwards (producer of Frogs; How Awful About Allan; Queen of Blood) and [uncredited] cinematographer Gary Graver from a screenplay co-written with Tony Crechales and Mel Edelstein (associate producer of Deadly Games). Carrie Snodgress, Ray Milland and Ruth Cox star.

Louise (Carrie Snodgress), a librarian, devotes her life to caring for her controlling, wheelchair-ridden father, Wendel (Ray Milland) after her fiancé disappears the night before their wedding.

She fantasizes about her father’s death, and only finds joy with Emily (Ruth Cox)–a fellow librarian who is being trained as Louise’s replacement (Louise is being fired for attempting to burn down the library)–and a pet monkey that Emily buys for Louise.

While wheeling her father up a hill at a local park one Sunday afternoon, Wendel’s wheelchair tips over, and he falls out. Wendel reflexively picks himself up and it is revealed he was never disabled to begin with, and he lied to Louise all this time in order to enslave her to him…

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” …a carefully-paced, well-observed character piece about a very sad, almost tragic character […] The Attic is an emotional film; one so well-acted, so emotionally raw, it hurts. It makes you ache. I wouldn’t call it scary but its approach is unrelenting, and you won’t be able to turn away.”  John Kenneth Muir, Horror Films of the 1980s

“The film could have used some tighter editing since some of its subplots seem to go nowhere. Snodgress (The Fury) is a very capable actress who does a good job portraying a character that is being slowly driven to madness, and Milland is fun to watch in his final nasty old man role…” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

” …there are about 95 minutes to sit through which, despite taking in libraries, travel agents, casual sex, a pet monkey and Ray Milland in the bath, are not terribly entertaining. Director Edwards manages – just – to keep you watching but, as is often the case with films such as this, it’s difficult to tell whether you’re ploughing on because you’re enjoying it or because you just want to find out what happened.” Cinema Delirium

“The entire GD movie is depressing! Loneliness, alienation, lives spent lost and adrift…this is by no means a light watch, even if the film’s incongruous musical cues and bizarre jokes sometimes give it the feel of one. A better life for Louise seems to be just out of reach, and you desperately hope she’ll get there, but this is a horror film, not a life-affirming yogurt love journey movie.” Final Girl

“This drama-cum-horror is a slow burn, building to a powerful and satisfying climax. Well done throughout. Movingly, Snodgress is on the mark as the troubled spinster.” The Terror Trap

Image credits: Cinema DeliriumFinal GirlGroovy Doom


Main cast and characters:
Carrie Snodgress as Louise Elmore – The Fury
Ray Milland as Wendell – Frogs; X; The Premature Burial; The Uninvited
Ruth Cox as Emily
Rosemary Murphy as Mrs Perkins
Frances Bay as Librarian
Fern Barry as Mrs Mooney
Marjorie Eaton as Mrs Fowler
Filming locations:

Wichita, Kansas

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