Twenty-four year old Jennifer Jason Leigh. Naked. Have I gotten your attention yet?
Leigh plays Lucy, younger sister to Charlotte. Together, they run a Bed and Breakfast in the Louisiana Bayou. When Congressional Aide Matt Rutledge (played by the always wooden Eric Stolz) comes to stay, hints at a horrible secret in the sisters’ past come to light, and Lucy’s already fragile mind (enhanced by plenty of medication) begins to come unraveled. She swears she sees ghosts in the local swamps, for example.
“Sister, Sister” is an atmospheric film that takes advantage of its locale. The mansion used for the Bed and Breakfast is appropriately gothic, and night scenes set in the marshes are effectively creepy.
The film as a whole, though, feels like a Lifetime movie – minus Leigh’s exquisite sex scene, of course (said sex scene would be a reason to recommend “Sister, Sister” if it weren’t for the accompanying inappropriate music more fitting a medieval faire).
Unfortunately, “Sister, Sister” was released while Leigh and Stolz’s careers were waning. It didn’t do much to help them any. One flashback scene shows a ten year-old girl speaking with Leigh’s adult voice. Do I even have to say how ridiculous this looks? It also features one of the most abrupt endings I have ever seen. Ultimately though, the film fails because of its weird sense of morality. You’ll understand when you see the ending. But hey, have I mentioned Leigh gets nekkid?
It all feels oddly dragged out, despite a brief running time of 91 minutes, including credits. Most of the film occurs inside the mansion, and that single set along with the plot and a small cast makes the whole thing feel like an Agatha Christie mystery. And that’s essentially all it is. Not much blood, no real gore, no real tension. But it sure is pretty.
Pros: Great atmosphere. Leigh and Judith Ivey shine.
Cons: Thin story. Stolz feels out of place.
Review Rating: 2.5 out of 5 mediocre films doesn’t make for a bad director; Bill Condon went on to make the excellent “Gods and Monsters.”
“Sister, Sister” (1987)
91 Minutes; USA
Rated R due to nudity, violence, language, and adult situations.
Eric Stoltz (Matt Rutledge)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Lucy Bonnard)
Judith Ivey (Charlotte Bonnard)
Dennis Lipscomb (Sheriff Cleve Doucet)
Anne Pitoniak (Mrs. Bettlehelm)
Benjamin Mouton (Etienne LeViolette)
Directed by: Bill Condon
Written by: Ginny Cerrella, Joel Cohen, and Bill Condon
Viewing Format: VHS.
(Originally published on HorrorWatch)