The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

I suspect that The Little Girl Who Lives Down the lane will be one of the least bloody and least violent films I’ll watch this holiday season. It may also end up being the most unsettling.

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the lane stars a thirteen-year-old Jodie Foster as Rynn, the titular girl living down the lane. Rynn claims to live with her father in a rent house, but a few nosy townsfolk realize that none of them have actually met the girl’s father. Rynn’s father is always conveniently out of town, working in his study, or upstairs sleeping when people drop by.

The film feels like a play, with one major location (Rynn’s house) and a small cast of characters. The few people Rynn interacts with are Mrs. Hallet (the landlord), her grown son Frank Hallet (the town pedophile), police officer Miglioriti, and his fifteen-year-old nephew, Mario.

In all of Jodi Foster’s childhood roles she comes off as being wise beyond her years, and this movie is no exception. Rynn is always quick with a story as to where her father is and handles herself as an adult throughout the film. She remains one step ahead of everyone, and by the time they realize it, she’s three steps ahead.

This movie is not your traditional horror film. In fact, although we learn about four deaths during the film, none of them take place on screen and we only end up seeing one dead body. The horror in this film does not come from traditional gore or scares; instead it comes from a thirteen-year-old girl being actively hunted by a sexual predator who no one is either willing or able to stop.

The film also includes a sexual relationship between thirteen-year-old Rynn and the slightly older (fifteen) Mario. There’s a brief nude scene apparently featuring Foster’s slightly older sister that’s not terribly explicit, but it’s enough to make you wonder how this film earned a PG rating. The 70s were a different era, that’s for sure.

I don’t know that I would call this a Halloween film or even a horror film (it’s more “psychological thriller,” if anything), I would definitely recommend it.

(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)


2 Responses to “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)”

  1. Zeno Says:

    Apart from box office smashes like The Exorcist or The Omen, I feel like 70s horror is largely underrated, particularly these kind of slow-burn stories with more of a psychological core than a jump-out booga-booga one.

    Hey, on that note, if you haven’t picked an “M” film yet (right up against the wire, I am), I cannot recommend “Messiah of Evil” enough. It’s a great example of what I described in the above paragraph and it’s public domain too. Totally worth a look, and maybe a review.

  2. GW Says:

    If you liked this, seek out Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural and the weird slow-burner Death By Invitation. I’d also recommend The Baby (it’s nuts deluxe), Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (a classic in my book) and the insanely weird (and unintentionally hilarious) The Devil Within Her.