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Alison (Cristina Raines) is not only a successful model who has a
lawyer boyfriend, Michael (Chris Sarandon), who honestly cares for her,
and a new, charming appartment - she is also a deeply troubled woman, who
made a suicide attempt after she caught her father (Fred Stuthman) in bed
with two women and neither of them her mother (Lucie Lancaster), and
despite she loves Michael dearly, she always has to push him back because
she needs space to breath ... and she has fainting spells.
Eventually, too, she starts to be annoyed by her neighbours, first and
foremost Mr Chazen (Burgess Meredith), but when she complyins about this
to the realtor (Ava Gardner), she tells her there are no neighbours, safe
for an old and blind priest (John Carradine) who sits by the window all
day and does virtually nothing else - and to prove this, the realtor even
leads Alison through the empty appartments of the building.
Then Alison is visited by her now dead father, and somehow she stabs
him, then runs through the streets in shock until the police picks her up
- but they can't find a trace of anyone who has been stabbed, be it her
father or anyone else, and they start to think she's a mental case - all
but one over-eager detective (Eli Wallach) and his sidekick (Christopher
Walken), who actually suspect Michael of wanting to drive her insane, as
they also suspect him of having murdered his previous wife.
Michael though really cares for Alison, and he tries to help her
uncover the mystery as he does not think she is crazy, and somehow he
links everything to some church secret that has to do with the priest
living in Alison's appartment building, and also with another priest,
Father Franchino (Arthur Kennedy), who seems to follow her around. And
when Michael gets his hands on some secret church files, his suspicions
are confirmed: It seems that the blind priest is guarding a gate to hell,
and he is to be succeeded by Alison ... that very night.
Michael tries to do everything to keep Alison from spending the night
in the appartment building (since he thinks that will save her for good)
and tries to put an end to the sinister goings-on in the appartment
building on his own, but he fails on both accounts (and hey, how is a
lawyer ever going to resolve the war between good and evil in the first
Michael meets his end at the hands of the hordes of hell, and Alison
shows up in her appartment building after all, being menaced by the hordes
of hell, who are only fought back when the blind priest and Father
Franchino arrive on the scene ... and they make Alison the blind priest's
successor in the end, and for the next I-don't-know-how-many-years she
will sit in front of the priest's window, her eyes blinded of course ...
On close inspection, the plot of this horror-mystery might not make all
that much sense, but it's filled with weird plottwists and bizarre
sequences aplenty to keep one from caring too much about the storyline
anyways, and thanks to an uneasy atmosphere tht permeates the film it
works perfectly well as a shocker a bit in the vein of The
Exorcist. Truth to be told, The Sentinel is no bona fide
classic, it's too pulpy in too many places to be, but it's fine and
enjoyable horror entertainment.