While it does not seem as such, The Attic released in 1980 is a horror film, so much so that when it finally hits the audience, they come to the realization that this is actually a truly underappreciated piece of cinema and that horror can come in all forms.
It all begins when spinster Carrie Snodgress who plays Louise tries to kill herself, ultimately failing. There is a lot going on in her life that makes her not want to live it and by that, meaning very little. She is lonely, achingly so and yearns for her fiancé who disappeared decades previously. Her mother died a many years past as well and ever since she has been looking after her crippled father as portrayed by the legendary Ray Milland, putting up with more emotional abuse than most people suffer in a lifetime. It is quite revolting to see what her father puts her through and when factoring in getting fired from her job – because for some reason she tried to burn down the library, having no friends except for the girl who is replacing her and having to live who knows how long until things get better and it is no wonder that Louise tried to escape. Things go from bad to worse when her dad kills her pet monkey, something that happens off-screen thankfully and one has to assume that is exactly what happened and it all leads to a confrontation long in the coming when her father makes one single fatal mistake after a lifetime of being careful.
There is a lot of horror in this film, first encapsulated by the loneliness Louise feels and Snodgress really puts that across to the audience quite palpably, something most have felt at least once in their lives. There is the horrific which assaults the ears in the form of the film’s soundtrack, two incredibly awful tracks that almost drive one to insanity. There is the verbal abuse that is heaped upon Louise from the start of the movie until that fateful showdown and then that finale where all truths are laid bare and the audience is left to wonder if Louise will live or die, whether from the weight of the revelations made known or being trapped in the attic and director George Edwards purposely leaves that question unanswered.
Though it might be better termed as a psychological thriller, at least of sorts, there is enough in here to warrant the film crossing over into the horror genre. Louise leads a frightening existence, one that nobody should have to live and if that is not enough to scare viewers then perhaps they have not experienced true horror.
3 out of 5