In THE ETERNAL (1998), a woman returns with her husband and son to the remote Irish mansion she’d fled as a child, only to discover herself in thrall to an ancient druid who wants to return. Art house in flavor, shot in a seventies horror style, and downright flippant, this horror film isn’t very loved by viewers or critics, but I had fun with it.
The film starts with a fun-loving husband and wife couple, Jim (a young Jared Harris) and Nora (the very sexy Allison Elliott). Nora has been having strange episodes and memories, leading to her doctor warning her and her alcoholic husband to quit their drinking. Nora, however, feels drawn to go to Ireland and see what’s left of her family. They bring their young son Jimmy, a quiet and shy boy who plays along but kinda looks like he’s slowly being traumatized by his parents’ antics and is bound to grow up to be a fuddy-duddy.
At the mansion, they meet Nora’s eccentric uncle Bill (Christopher Walken), a girl named Alice who seems to be the only sane adult in the place, and Nora’s witch grandmother (Lois Smith). It turns out Bill has disrupted things in several ways, including keeping the mummy of a 2,000-year-old Druid woman in the basement. When the Druid arises, all hell breaks loose on one long night.
I’d never heard of this movie, so when I saw it was available and who was in it, I jumped on it. Overall, it’s pretty weird. The horror touches are stylish and interesting, though never scary. There’s some terrific humor in the characters that pops up in little bursts, though it’s not a comedy. The villain isn’t ominous so much as eccentric, and the monster is interesting and relentless but never really frightening. The sudden arrival of IRA types is right out of left field. And then there’s Jim and Nora, the laughing and blithe alcoholic couple, blundering through everything and for the most part not taking it terrifically seriously, with Jim making little quips (including a hilarious out of nowhere impersonation of Christopher Walken) and interacting with the overly serious Alice in bits that had me laughing out loud.
So I’d recommend THE ETERNAL but caution it takes an open mind. It’s not great horror nor great comedy, but somehow it came together for me to be oddly compelling and a pretty fun time.