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The Sender – 6

Director – Roger Christian

Cast – Kathryn Harrold, Zeljko Ivanek, Shirley Knight, Paul Freeman, Sean Hewitt, Harry Ditson, Olivier Pierre, Al Matthews

Release Year – 1982

Reviewed by John of the Dead

The Sender

While searching for a film to watch on a boring night I came across The Sender, a 1982 psychological horror film. I was itching for an 80s flick, although I was hoping for a slasher, but when I saw that this came directed by Roger Christian AKA the man responsible for Battlefield Earth, I knew I just had to check this one out. Surprisingly enough tis flick is known as Quentin Tarantino’s favorite horror film of 1982, and while I personally believe John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) blows this out of the water, The Sender is a worthwhile watch that I mostly enjoyed.

After attempting suicide at a public beach, a young man is administered to a mental hospital and placed under Dr. Gail Farmer’s watch. Unable to remember his own name, the doctors deem him John Doe #83. Soon after his arrival Gail begins to experience strange occurrences where she sees and hears things around her and with no plausible explanation. Soon enough, her and her colleagues realize they are dealign with a very “special” patient with powers never before studied. They take this as a blessing and begin to experiment with the man, and with horrifying results.

This experience begins on a very positive note, giving us a horrifying sequence where John Doe tries to commit suicide at a public beach, carrying large and heavy stones with him as he slowly walks into the water. This act of course leads to his placement in the mental facility where Dr. Farmer works, and soon after that the horror begins to manifest. The first instance of horror involves Dr. Farmer enjoying a night alone at home and then fearing for her life when she hears what sounds like an intruder breaking in. Little does she know, none of what she saw or heard ever happened – yet it felt so very real. This phenomenon continues to harass her, and eventually she learns that it has something to do with her new patient, John Doe #83. These scenes were pretty dark and creepy, and if you allow the film to envelop you into Dr. Farmer’s life it helps the scare hit a bit harder. Things really get interesting when the doctors learn of John Doe’s mental, telepathic capabilities and begin to experiment in trying to fix him of his ailment, which only leads to even more disastrous results. Sadly, after the subsequent scenes of horror the film’s story began to lose me. The story began to turn into more of a drama, and while I do not fault he film for going that route I felt that the writing made the film drag during its third act and not end on the positive level that it carried with it for the first two acts.

I know some of you find Battlefield Earth very laughable, but Roger Christian’s direction was pretty solid in this film. He kicks things off the right way, with an awesome and very creepy musical score that compliments the film throughout its entirety, and his atmosphere is just the way I like it…gloomy. The sets and locations used were perfect for the feel the film conveyed to us, and the setting of the story bled a very solemn tone tha twas very reminiscent of both John Doe and Dr. Farmer’s lives. His execution of the “scare” scenes was what really sold me though, and while they were not overly scary they were effective in providing some good creepiness for the viewer to enjoy. He managed to somewhat keep me engaged during the film’s slow third act, but nonetheless his overall output was a positive one that was only held back by the story.

Overall, The Sender is an interesting flick that gives us a cool psychological horror story overall but sadly falters at the end. The direction is good and should do enough to keep you engaged, but this is not a film I would outrightly recommend unless you have nothing else to watch.

Rating: 6/10

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