← Back to Reviews
The Sentinel (1977)

Hoping to gain some independence from her omnipresent boyfriend, a successful model seeks new residence. She lands in a gorgeous old apartment building occupied by a curious lot of tenants. The tone is pretty far from camp, but it’s not too long before she has an abrupt flashback of walking in on her elderly father having an out-of-shape orgy. Freud might’ve called this Kubrick envy.

Once our protagonist begins to settle into her new quarters, she encounters a blind old priest who stares out of a window all day, and some fun eccentrics who love animals and communal masturbation, respectively. Her ceiling also creaks at night. Along the way, there are some clever, sometimes subtle red herrings ranging from paranormal gaslighting to prescription drug delusions. I intentionally left out some twisty detail, and I'll arrogantly recommend not reading too much more if you plan to see it. Even most of the posters contain a potential spoiler.

This is a good watch, and the mystery only gets stronger in the second half. It’s well shot, scored, acted, written, and recorded. Meaning, nothing really distracts from the plot. It’s surprisingly light on atmosphere, but the scares are really strong, if not scarce. The innocent-mannered lead is great too. We’re also treated to Christopher Walken chewing gum for a few seconds, detective Eli Wallach, and Jeff Goldblum with a phony dub. It’s very accessible and ‘of the time,’ but still not afraid to get a little weird.

“The bastards will pay.”