Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On the 3rd Day (1983)

... aka: On the Third Day

Directed by:
Stanley O'Toole

Douglas Hammond (Paul Williamson), stuffy and image-obsessed headmaster at the Larchfield Boys Preparatory School, and his wife Clarissa (Catherine Schell) return home from a brief trip to spend Easter weekend at home only to find the phone line dead, their cat shut up in an upstairs bedroom and the glass pane on their back door carefully removed with a glass cutter. A burglary? Nope. They find the man who broke in calmly sitting in their study. He announces himself as Jeremy Bolt (Richard Morant) and claims since he hasn't stolen anything and doesn't plan to that, legally, there's little they can do about him being there. He claims that he and Douglas both share a mutual friend: Douglas' former college roommate Joe, whom he hasn't seen in several years. The soft-spoken, articulate, well-dressed and polite Jeremy continues that he's an accountant who just got back from Australia and really just needs a place to stay for a few days while he's in town. He seems to have a plausible answer for pretty much everything, including the whereabouts of the car he claimed he drove there that is nowhere to be found, yet a certain unnerving and odd way about him nonetheless. However, since Douglas finds him “presentable enough” and he's a friend of a friend, he decides to let him stay there.

While Douglas rushes off to pick up his sexually liberated 21-year-old daughter Sarah (Sally Toft), who's been away at college and coming in for the holiday, Jeremy uses the opportunity to clue Clarissa in on the fact that he knows way more about them than he should, including that she fled her working class home in Europe and was homeless until Douglas met her, took her in and married her. Because of Douglas' obsession with “good breeding” in regards to his students, over dinner Jeremy lets them in on his own life and past, claiming to be the son of a late chambermaid whose father ran off before he was even born who managed to make something of himself regardless.

An excellent piano player, Jeremy is also a fan of punk and New Wave much to the daughter's liking. When Douglas calls it “meaningless junk,” Jeremy calls him a “musical snob” and then pulls a gun on him, gets in his face and starts screaming; a weird outburst he writes off as just a practical joke. And it's also a practical joke when he points the gun at his head, spins the barrel, pulls the trigger and falls over like he's just killed himself when the bullets are actually blanks. After that bizarre display, the startled parents decide to call it a night. Though Sarah doesn't really appreciate his sense of humor, she finds herself rather easily seduced by him and the two make love outside by the pool later that night. He's so prudent about it that he even gives her the option of soft or hard. All of the above is what the wily home intruder gets up to his very first night in the home so who knows what else he has in store for the family.

After discovering that Jeremy doesn't actually know their mutual friend, Douglas wants him out of the house right away. However, Jeremy knows some more personal secrets about him and his wife that he uses to blackmail them into staying on until he's ready to go. By the time Monday rolls around, and just in time for the town's communal Easter celebration, Jeremy  dredges up even more skeletons in the proper family's closet and things take a somewhat violent turn. The title is a biblical allusion to the death and resurrection of Jesus (“And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” blah blah blah), which the film attempts to parallel with its own characters and their changes / discoveries.

This psychological drama, which often resembles a made-for-TV movie and is somewhat reminiscent of the superior Brimstone & Treacle from the previous year, is competently done but unremarkable and the big revelation at the end is so painfully predictable you can probably guess why Jeremy is there and what his connection is to the Hammond family simply by reading my write-up of the plot. The three leads all deliver good performances, though the actress playing the daughter is awful, has been poorly dubbed over by someone else and was probably cast just because she agreed to (briefly) go topless. During one odd sequence, a conversation is stopped cold when a little boy randomly shows up at the Hammond home to play Beethoven's "Für Elise" on piano. During another pointless bit, another boy runs out of church service because he has to take a piss. Both of these moments exist solely so the director could give his young sons roles in the film.

This is the sole directorial / screenplay credit for O'Toole, who worked mostly as a producer, including twice for this film's associate producer / DP, Alec Mills on the films Bloodmoon (1990) and Dead Sleep (1992). There seems to have been one release and one release only for this one; a U.S. VHS on the Karl-Lorimar Home Video label back in 1986.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...