The Entity – Sidney J. Furie – 1982


Carla Moran has a problem. An invisible demon rapes her when she goes home. At first it’s only she treats the problem as existing in her mind, but over time it is clear that something infernal is haunting and harming Carla. Sidney J. Furie deftly handles the story as a very real occurrence.

Barbara Hershey is really what makes this film work. If you don’t believe an invisible force is assaulting Carla, then nothing really works. Hershey’s acting here is beyond reproach. Working versus literally nothing, the burden is on her to sell the violence and she does with gusto.

After her initial attack, Carla tries several times with a psychiatrist to confront her trauma, and reduce her demons to lack of strong, forceful men in her life, that she wants these attacks sub-consciously. Screenwriter Frank Felitta does little to lionize or even defend the profession of head-shrink. Her doctor is abusive and vile, his interest clearly a selfish sexual need, more than a Hippocratic obligation to his patient. To the contrary, the parapsychologists Carla employs are portrayed with much more humanity. The values of the film are that of an open mind, not a perception of scientific myopia.

The film is stark and suburban. Carla is regular woman, single, with three children. She has a job, but is late on rent, has friends and is loved by her boyfriend and kids. Very quickly the film has on her side. So as the demonic force presses on her, and her doctor keeps telling her it’s all in her head, we as the audience feel frustration. Rightfully so, having a truth we know in our heart suppressed, telling us it is all in our head, telling us we are crazy is something no one wants to hear.

The film is supposedly based on a true story, and that’s very freaky if there are rape-demons out there going from house to house preying on vulnerable souls, but I feel the story works functionally well as a diatribe against closed thought. Ghost stories are met with cynicism. People don’t want to consider the possibility of invisible rape demons run amok. If bureaucracy, can tell you’re the things you feel in your house and in your mind are false, then what can’t they take away from you?

In the Entity her doctors, those promised to aid her, would convince her that her very faculties were at fault. By virtue of her past trauma some violence manifested and became physical ailment. If we allow our minds to be misdiagnosed as crazy, then when will we know when an unseen force enters our domain and defiles us?

This film is truly horrifying both in text and subtext. In one scene, Carla’s son is zapped to the floor with bolts of electric energy, a by-product of the demon’s essence. Everyday we surround ourselves with electronic gagetry,  cell phones, laptops, ipads, vehicles for thoughts to be beamed into our minds. If we are careful, sometimes we can discern which of those ideas show to us the dangers of the world and which of them seek to convince us that those dangers are all in our head.


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