Starring: Jodi Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Mort Shuman, Scott Jacoby
Every once in a while, when I’m not intent on watching anything in particular (or good), I slap on some oddball movie, pour a glass of the red stuff, and sit back, not expecting much but an hour or two of passable film. Having been subscribed to Netflix for years now, as many of you are, you’ll know what I mean when I say there is never a shortage of low-budget indie flicks, blood spattered B-horror, syndicated TV shows, and paranormal documentaries. When you just want some forgettable pap to watch, Netflix has your back like a jacket. That about explains my mood last night, and so not expecting much from what they called a “unique and engrossing mystery” starring a teenaged Jodie Foster, I hit play on ‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane’, poured a glass of Merlot, and prepared to be unimpressed. Man was I wrong.
‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane’ tells the odd story of Rynn Jacobs, a 13-year-old girl (Foster) who lives a seemingly quiet life in a small New England village with her mysterious poet-father. Having just recently moved to the US from England, village locals are very interested in meeting the famous poet, and are mildly concerned that he never seems to be home when they stop by, most notably the snotty landlord, Cora (Alexis Smith), and her sleezeball son, Frank (Martin Sheen).
When Frank stops by the house early in the film, we learn that he has a particular disposition towards young girls, and Rynn seems to have captured his perverted attention. Frank is increasingly interested as to the whereabouts of Rynn’s father, whom he would like to speak with concerning the house. Rynn is quite capable however, and for a 13-year-old, she comes across as extremely intelligent, throwing both Frank and his mother Cora for a loop. When Cora shows up unannounced and demands to speak to Rynn’s father, Rynn out-foxes Cora more than once and dominates the awkward situation, revealing for the first time that there might be more to Rynn than meets the eye.
This whole film is brilliant and for sake of saving some of the twists and surprises for you, I will refrain from delving too much further into the plot. This was one of those films that I watched on a complete whim, not really expecting much out of a late 70’s-era mystery yarn. After being subjected to some token 70’s funk music which had heinously been decided upon for the film’s score, I was actually able to sit back and enjoy this otherwise excellent film. The pacing is near-perfect, and while at times the acting borders on becoming a melted piece of cheese, it quickly rights itself with clever dialogue and a crafty plot that will keep you guessing until the end. While not filled with any M. Night Shyamalan-esque mega-twists, ‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane’ should not be missed, both for its dutiful performances from Foster and Sheen and it’s masterful blend of mystery and suspense…even bordering on slightly unsettling horror. Take some David Lynch, some Hitchcock, an excellent young Jodie Foster, and an intensely creepy Martin Sheen, and you have a winner in this flick! Enjoy.
4.5 out of 5