Scorsese called this one of the scariest films ever made, which makes sense, because this is maybe the most Catholic horror film ever made. The sexually violent ghosts attacking Barbara Hershey (who really is amazing in this movie, absolutely stunning work) externalise classic notions of Catholic guilt into their most extreme form. While these scenes of sexual-assault are quite scary, The Entity finds the most power in its (sadly still relevant) depictions of systemic patriarchal abuse. Ron Silver’s dismissal of Hershey’s experiences as “hysteria” is more bone-chilling than any of the lightning fingers or green-glowing monsters.
Unfortunately, The Entity gradually seems to lose interest in the misogyny at the heart of its story and turns into a goofy ghost-hunting procedural, complete with para-psychology students and a lot of pseudo-scientific technobabble. There’s a braver, more uncomfortable movie here than what it turns into, and in brief moments – like when Hershey’s boyfriend calls her “tainted” by the rapes – it holds onto that potential, even as it morphs into nonsense, but it’s all too little too late.