The Sentinel review by The Grim Ringler

Whatever evil genius owned the souls of the pretty well established Hollywood talent that is in this film, well, my friend, you are a dark, dark soul. Seriously, to watch this moderately trashy horror/art film youd think either a Hollywood casting agents office exploded or someone owed their soul to old pokey. The film, about an old apartment building and the unfortunate place it happens to be built upon, is a strange bird to say the least. More artsy than horror, more odd than scary, and filled with a lot of great actors that dont do much save for some occasional scenery chewing, but whats it all mean?

The Sentinel follows a beautiful young model, as she is about to sign a lease on her first apartment. She is recently out of a psychiatric hospital and is engaged to an up and coming lawyer, and now that she has her own place, life should be perfect. And is, so it would seem. The apartment she takes is charming, already furnished, and from her first meeting with an elderly neighbor, things look like they will go smoothly. Its on further inspection of the other residents though that the woman begins to see what a strange place she lives in. The old man dotes on his cat and seems to be outside the womans door whenever she opens it, there is a strange lesbian couple (one of whom particularly likes to masturbate in front of strangers it would seem), the old woman who spouts off odd, random things, and the older couple who seem a little too excited that the woman has moved in. The neighbors are peculiar, to be sure, but the woman can laugh them off. Its the sounds she cannot ignore. The apartment above her, an apartment that is supposed to be abandoned, comes alive with the sound of someone walking heavily and clanging metal objects together late in the night. Upon telling her landlady this though the woman insists that the only occupants are the woman and the old, blind priest that lives in the penthouse apartment. When an inspection with the landlady shows that there really is no one in the apartment save for the old priest and the woman the true dark nature of the building begins to reveal itself. The woman can sense something is wrong there but with a sudden spate of debilitating headaches she cant seem to focus on what is really happening to her. If the apartment is abandoned then whom has she been seeing? Who are those people who have been in her apartment as she had been in theirs? Her world is spiraling out of control and no one, not even her fiance can seem to help her as visions of her dead father and the ghosts of the apartment appear to her. At a party she has another of her headaches and before anyone knows what is happening she is gone, leaving through a back exit and back to the apartment, which has been waiting for her. What she doesnt know is that her fiance, worried for her safety, had gone on ahead of her to see what was happening in the place and has found the dark heart of its secret, a secret she too shall soon learn. And its no wonder that such an apartment as she had chosen, fully decorated and spacious, was so inexpensive when it was built over a gateway to hell.

A promising tale but one plagued by too much dialogue and not enough ideas, this feels all too familiar to anyone who has seen Rosemarys Baby. The actors give it a go and really do buy into the material, none more so than Burgess Meredith, who seems to be the keeper of the gate itself, and who truly seems to take delight in playing such a mysterious character. The real horror of the film comes at the end when, the gates opened, the apartment is filled with demons and beasts, none more frightening than the real life freaks that slide, waddle, lurch, and crawl towards the heroine in he finale. This isnt a poorly made film as much as an art film posing as a horror film. Hell, the overall mood of the film is one of indifference. That the lead character is a model with emotional problems and lives in a world known for sin and excess, I suppose a few things might be gleaned from that but, eh, why bother?

Worth a rental? Sure, if you are curious, have a thing for freaks, or just dig on Burgess. Otherwise its a pedestrian horror yawner thats more curiosity piece than classic.


5 out of 10 Jackasses
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