Lady In White

on April 22, 1988 by Tom Matthews
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   "Lady in White" is an ambitious but muddled film that careens distractingly from genre to genre until the viewer is left exhausted and a little annoyed. It is being marketed as a ghost story, but (unfortunately) it is much, much more. br>   The story is set in a tiny American town called Willowpoint alls. The year is 1962, at a time when a boy named Frankie ("Witness'" Lukas Haas) is going through the usual joys and anxieties of being a kid. For an extended period of the time, the film is reminiscent of "A Christmas Story," complete with nostalgic humor and affectionate jabs at parents and teachers as seen through a child's eyes.
   Then, Frankie finds himself trapped one night in a cloakroom at his school, where he sees the ghostly presence of a little girl. Shortly thereafter, a man bursts into the cloakroom and kills Frankie- but only momentarily. (After an odd special effects extravaganza, during which Frankie sees the afterlife, he is revived.) The attack renews stories about a child murderer who has been loose in the town for nearly a decade, and Frankie soon realizes that the ghost that he ad seen in the cloakroom is that of one of the killer's victims. She s wandering the Earth looking for her mother (who is also dead). When rankie is cornered again by the child murderer, the ghostly mother and daughter team are reunited in time to save the little boy.
   "Lady in White" shifts with awkward abruptness from being a playful salute to childhood to an occasionally grim fantasy about eath and murdered toddlers. When a black janitor is falsely accused of the killings, the film becomes a civil rights treatise. (The janitor ultimately is shot dead by one of the victims' mothers when he gets acquitted.) Had one of the characters broken into song at some point, the movie would have covered all of the bases, genre-wise. Ambitious scripts are all well and good, but this movie is all over the road. Despite some nice moments and a very good performance by young Haas, meager business can be expected for this hodgepodge of a film.    Starring Lukas Haas, Len Cariou and Alex Rocco. Directed and written by Frank LaLoggia. Produced by Andrew G. La Marca and Frank LaLoggia. A New Century/Vista release (1988), reviewed below; re- release, in director's cut with 10 additional minutes of footage, is being handled by Phaedra Cinema. Fantasy. Rated PG-13 for violence. Running time: 108 min.
Tags: Lukas Haas, Len Cariou and Alex Rocco. Directed and written by Frank LaLoggia. Produced by Andrew G. La Marca and Frank LaLoggia. A New Century/Vista release, fantasy, murdered, ambitious, anxieties
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