Wednesday, 10 December 2014

How Awful About Allan (1970)



When Allan Crawley carelessly leaves out some painting supplies, they cause a fire which leaves his father dead and his sister Katherine is disfigured by her efforts to save the older man.  Allan himself emerges physically unharmed, but his guilt over the events leaves him with psychosomatic blindness.

Three months later, Allan's doctor has helped him to conquer some of his guilt, and his eyesight has returned enough for him to make out blurry shapes and colours.  Enough at least that the doctor believes Allan should leave the hospital and continue his recuperation at home.

So Allan returns to the house, where Katherine is still living.  The room where the fire occurred is still boarded up, but the rest of the building seems intact enough.  On the other hand, money has become very tight, and Katherine informs him they need to bring in a lodger (sidenote: the characters always say 'roomer' rather than 'lodger', which I continually parsed as 'rumour' every time I heard it).

Allan's not keen to have a stranger in the house - especially one he can't even see - and he's even less happy about it when the stranger appears to have very odd habits.  The man keeps the door to his room locked at all times, and only comes in and out in the middle of the night.

That's soon going to be the least of Allan's worries however, as a strange shadowy figure periodically appears to haunt him.  Is his guilt about the fire now manifesting in a new delusion, or is there actually someone stalking Allan?

Honestly, the weakness of the film is that the answer to that last question is pretty easy to work out.  I mean, the exact details of what's going on aren't clear, but you won't be spending much time thinking this is all in Allan's head, and frankly you'll probably figure out the principal culprit early on.  It's not like the film really gives you a lot of options for who it could be.

So while the performances are solid (especially for what was made as a TV movie), How Awful About Allan isn't going to present you with much in the way of mystery.  It also, after the reveal is finally made, has a laughably silly epilogue sequence.

Not a film you need to seek out, unless you're a passionate fan of either Psycho's Anthony Perkins (who stars as Allan) or of TV soapmeister Aaron Spelling (whose company produced it).


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