aka The Haunting of Julia
Director – Richard Loncraine, Screenplay – Dave Humphries, Adaptation – Harry Bromley Davenport, Based on the Novel Julia by Peter Straub, Producers – Peter Fetterman & Alfred Pariser, Photography – Peter Hannan, Music – Colin Towns, Special Effects – Thomas Clark, Makeup – Dickie Mills, Art Director – Brian Morris. Production Company – Fetter Productions/Classic Film Industries.
Mia Farrow (Julia Lofting), Tom Conti (Mark), Keir Dullea (Magnus Lofting), Anna King (Rose Flood), Jill Bennett (Lily), Robin Gammell (David Swift), Cathleen Nesbitt (Mrs Rudge), Mary Morris (Greta Braden), Samantha Gates (Olivia Rudge)
When her daughter Katy chokes on a piece of apple, Julia Lofting tries to save her by performing an impromptu tracheotomy and cutting open her throat but instead kills her. Afterwards Julia has a nervous breakdown and is placed in an institution. Released some time later, she resolves to make a clean break away from her domineering husband Magnus. She buys her own house, while he makes a determined effort to force her to come back to him. On her own, Julia soon comes to believe that Katy is trying to get in contact with her. In the nearby park, she sees a young girl who looks very similar to Katy, while others believe her sanity is starting to fray again. Investigation leads Julia to believe that this could be the ghost of Olivia Rudge, a young girl who in the 1930s drove her peers to acts of mindless sadism and eventually murder.
This relatively obscure and little-seen British-Canadian production was adapted from the first novel, Julia (1975), by Peter Straub. Straub has since become a popular horror writer with works like Ghost Story (1979), Shadowland (1980), Floating Dragon (1983), Koko (1988), The Hellfire Club (1995), Mr X (1999) and Lost Boy, Lost Girl (2003) and his Stephen King collaborations The Talisman (1984) and Black House (2001), among others.
From the gauzy photography and the piano score insistently tinkling away in the background, Full Circle has all the hallmarks of a made-for-tv ghost story. Everything that happens is very elliptical – it could be a much vaguer Val Lewton film with its ‘Is it real or is she going mad?’ games as to whether the ghosts are actual or figments of Mia Farrow’s imagination. The visual symbolism – the dead daughter, the parent thinking they keep seeing her running about still alive, the dead child being mistaken for a murderer, the psychics, the recurrent events – remind a good deal of Nicolas Roeg’s much superior Don’t Look Now (1973).
Most of the time, director Richard Loncraine’s attempts to be so subtle are so vague and abstruse that the film’s horrors disappear into obscurity – Julia’s reasons for believing there is a ghost in the house are never particularly clearly developed, for instance. Both Mia Farrow’s neurotic performance and the forced giggling-about-nothing of the scenes between her and Tom Conti make Full Circle seem a film that is as remote and distant from us as its heroine is from the world.
There is the oddly effective moment – like the eerie seance, which comes tensely underlined by the score and a jokey realism. The ending holds a precision chill – the lovely shot with Mia Farrow accepting Samantha Gates into her arms, then an ominous metallic snick coming as the camera passes behind her armchair to emerge on the other side to show Farrow dead, bleeding from a wound at her neck.
Peter Straub’s equally cryptic book has been changed so the film can kill off most of the supporting characters at regular intervals – in so doing, for all the film’s would-be pretension towards psychological subtlety, it remains only a traditional horror film.
The only other Peter Straub novel adapted to the screen so far has been Ghost Story (1981). Straub’s Stephen King collaboration The Talisman has been often mentioned as an film or tv mini-series adaptation ever since its original publication.
Full film available online here:-