by Anthony King
A film that opens with a young man waking up on the side of the road in a heavily-wooded area, walking to a crowded beach, placing rocks in his pockets, and then walking into the water to drown himself will certainly grab your attention from the word “go.” The camera follows him until he's completely submerged, and at the two-minute mark, I already had a chill running up my spine. Apparently The Sender was cut to hell by studio executives who were unhappy with director Roger Christian's original edit of the film, deeming it “too slow and artsy.” After having watched this for the first time, and reading of the executives' idea (have the story be told in flashbacks), I can't imagine this brilliant film any other way.The Soldier. Quite telling of the characters he would go on to portray, Ivanek plays Doe as a mysterious and quiet man with a bit of loose cannon lurking beneath. Kathryn Harrold (Modern Romance) plays Dr. Farmer, a caring – albeit a little too caring – psychiatrist who wants to learn about her new patient. Upon her first meeting with him, she lovingly strokes his face in a character-defining moment, but also an “Ew, what are you doing?” moment. Even when she sees him breaking into her house, she shows not an ounce of fear or anger. Harrold plays Dr. Farmer as an empathetic mother figure to this young man about whom she knows nothing.
As with most movies up to and decades beyond this point, there isn't a single man in The Sender that treats Dr. Farmer with even a tiny bit of respect. If the character had a penis, then apparently he wasn't allowed to believe anything she said. “Why are you getting so upset?” says one of her colleagues. “I'm not upset!” she snaps back. I'll be honest: it got to a point where a man would walk on screen and I'd think to myself, “Well who's this asshole?” So as other doctors, “friends,” and even cops treat Dr. Farmer as a lunatic because of her theories about these visions she's having (far-fetched theories, sure, but c'mon man!), enter Shirley Knight.Malignant in that list as well and make a mini marathon out of it. Call it, “It's All In Your Head.” You're welcome.