Audrey Rose (1977): Robert Wise’s Psychological Horror drama, Starring Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, John Beck

Robert Wise directed Audrey Rose, a psychological horror drama, a pale imitation of The Exorcist, starring Marsha Mason, Anthony Hopkins, and John Beck.

Grade: C (*1/2* out of *****)

Audrey Rose
Audrey Rose movie poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Its plot follows a New York City couple who are sought out by a stranger who believes their adolescent daughter is a reincarnation of his deceased one.

It is based on the 1975 novel of the same name by Frank De Felitta, who also adapted the screenplay.

Setting and Premise:

Bill and Janice Templeton live privileged life in Manhattan’s Upper West Side with their daughter Ivy, who is 11. Over period of weeks, they notice a stranger following them in public places, and Janice grows alarmed when the man follows her and Ivy home .

The man reaches out to the couple by phone, revealing himself as Elliot Hoover, a widower who lost his wife and young daughter, Audrey Rose, in car accident in Pittsburgh.

Over dinner, Elliot suggests that daughter Ivy is reincarnation of Audrey, and that psychics confirm his suspicions, intimate knowledge of the couple’s apartment and Ivy’s birth minutes after Audrey died.

One night, Janice finds Ivy repeatedly greeting herself as Audrey Rose in the bathroom mirror. Bill and Janice’s attorney requests that Ivy be hypnotized as means of proving she is not reincarnation of Audrey.

Janice writes a letter to Elliot, thanking him for transporting Ivy’s cremated remains to India, and expressing hope that Bill will accept their belief that Ivy was reincarnation of Audrey.

A closing intertitle quotes the Bhagavad-Gita: “There is no end. For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does it ever cease to be. It is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval…”

Sharply uneven, the film starts as a decent thriller, before it devolves into a silly legal melodrama, with a hypnotized witness. Though the acting was decent, the movie ultimately suffered from an unintelligent script that was too literal and slow pacing for a thriller.

Greeted with mixed to negative critical response, the movie was a commercial failure, signaling the decline and end of Wise’s long, impressive screen career.

Cast
Marsha Mason as Janice Templeton
Anthony Hopkins as Elliot Hoover
John Beck as Bill Templeton
Susan Swift as Ivy Templeton / Audrey Rose
Norman Lloyd as Dr. Steven Lipscomb
John Hillerman as Prosecutor Scott Velie
Ivy Jones as Mary Lou Sides
Robert Walden as Brice Mack
Stephen Pearlman as Russ Rothman
Aly Wassil as Maharishi Gupta Pradesh
Mary Jackson as Mother Veronica
Elizabeth Farley as Carole Rothman
Richard Lawson as Policeman
Bill Beutel as Bill Beutel

Credits:

Directed by Robert Wise
Screenplay by Frank De Felitta, based on Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta
Produced by Frank De Felitta, Joe Wizan

Cinematography Victor J. Kemper
Edited by Carl Kress
Music by Michael Small

Production company: United Artists

Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: April 6, 1977

Running time: 113 minutes
Budget $4 million
Box office $2 million