Horror 365 Movie 217: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

Okay here’s a sick one. At first I was gonna talk about how this movie is a one-way ticket to Sketchyville, but no. That’s where the train starts. See, it’s Halloween, and Rynn Jacobs (a teeny baby Jodie Foster) is celebrating her 13th birthday.

Rynn is weird enough on her own, as will be revealed, but along comes her landlady’s adult son, Frank Hallet (a decidedly not Presidential Martin Sheen). Hallet shows up that night with his costumed kids. With his sleaze dial cranked up to 11, he starts making sexual advances on Rynn. Who is 13! It’s almost unwatchably squirm-inducing.

Rynn has a number of other difficulties, not the least of which is her landlady, Frank’s mother Cora. Rynn’s father, a poet, never seems to be available any time anyone wants to see him. He’s out, or working and can’t be disturbed, or asleep–always something.

This does not sit well with Ms. Cora who is both doggedly determined and very apt at manufacturing reasons to poke around the joint. But fear not. Rynn is pretty capable when it comes to taking care of herself and has been doing so for a good minute. She also gets a little help from her love interest, a nerdy would-be magician named Mario.

Okay, time for a little backstory and lotsa spoilers: Rynn’s parents are divorced, her mother was abusive, and her father was terminally ill. You might be thinking, “Wait? Did he say was?” Yes. Was. See, Rynn’s father moved the two of them from England to get away from Mommie Dearest. He set things up so that Rynn would be able to live alone (the details on this are a little iffy).

He then commits suicide in such a manner that his body would be dragged out to sea by the northern New England tide (also iffy). And he left a jar of cyanide in case Rynn’s mother came looking for her. Surprise, she did. So Rynn poisoned her tea and lived happily ever after…for a while.

Shortly after Rynn turns Frank away the first time, Cora shows up looking for jelly jars that just so happen to be in the basement. Rynn attempts to throw Frank under the bus by ratting out his seriously ickified behavior. Oddly, Cora suggests “it might be better if you didn’t let him in” if Dad ain’t home. Well that’s helpful.

She leaves but returns soon enough and makes a beeline for the basement. It’s accessible only by a trap door whiiiiiiiiiiiich…smacks Cora in the head and kills her. Oops. Time passes. Mario has developed pneumonia from helping Rynn bury some evidence in the yard during a rainstorm a while back.

After she goes to visit him in the hospital, Rynn gets home just in time to see Frank emerging from the cellar where he’s gone looking for mumsy. He proceeds to blackmail Rynn for sex (jeebus) based on whatever the hell he thinks he knows, and she appears to cave. She then makes them some tea, shrewdly putting the poison in her own cup. Ooo.

Frank of course is too smart for her, and switches his cup for hers. Clearly he never watched The Princess Bride. Oh well. Tatty-byes slimebag. And by the by, what the hell is it with bad guys named Frank in horror movies? Hellraiser’s Frank Cotton, Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth, Donnie Darko’s Frank The Bunny, Rocky Horror’s Frank-N-Furter–that’s just a few.

I was gonna make a “to be frank” joke, but gross. And holy crap do I not wanna even remotely be Frank in this case. Ick.

Obviously the pedophilia aspect of this movie is seriously disquieting, especially when brought into sharp focus by our post-To Catch A Predator culture. I mean, it’s always been sickening, but it seems, I dunno, somehow even worse now. On top of that is some highly questionable nudity. On one hand, this was shot using a 21-year-old body double. On the other hand, that body double was used to represent a 13-year-old girl.

Seriously…makes your skin crawl. I wish there was a way to spell the noise I’m making right now. George Carlin talking about tomatoes is about right.

Anyway. Tea?


SKULLS- 10
BODIES- 2 onscreen, 2 off, plus a hamster
Stream- Hoopla, Prime, Roku Channel, Shudder, YouTube
Rent- Apple TV

5 thoughts on “Horror 365 Movie 217: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane

  1. Here’s an unfunny funny: one of the local TV stations here used to run this all the time during the late 70’s and into the 80’s pretty much uncut. Also. this would make a super creepy double feature with The Sailor Who Fell With Grace From The Sea, which is more of a horror movie than one would initially think.

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  2. […] The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane, M. Night Shyamalan- Despite its cringeworthy flaws, I like this movie but think it could be even […]

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