Set during the 1930s, The Day of the Locust follows Tod (William Atherton), an art director working on several upcoming films. While moving into a small apartment, he soon discovers an actress named Fay (Karen Black) lives across from him. As Tod begins to get to know Fay, he decides to pursue her and starts discovering the things that Fay would love in a man. Tod attempts to win her over by doing these many things, even purchasing a new car with the hopes of impressing her. But soon, he will discover there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Fay and attempting a relationship with her. Fay generally wants nothing to do with Tod and would rather be with someone rich and wealthy. Tod also finds that Fay has problems with men and personal issues when it comes to her relationship with her father.
The plot gets even more impressive when Fay meets a man named Homer (Donald Sutherland), who helps Fay’s father during a health issue. Fay is surrounded by two men who only want to please her, win her heart and gain her affection. Now we witness a dangerous love triangle that only has disastrous and shocking consequences.
The opening of the film is quite pleasing as it introduces us to both Tod and Fay. It doesn’t take long for us as audience members to understand there’s something off about Fay, particularly when it comes to relationships. I was surprised to find Donald Sutherland doesn’t make an appearance in the film for a lengthy duration, considering he’s top-billed in this feature. Performances are great, and I give full credit to Karen Black, who plays quite an unlikable character. I disliked her character so much while watching the film- a credit to the actress and her performance. Donald Sutherland is also pleasing and gives a performance that can be unsettling and uncomfortable to see.
As a plot, the film moves at a slow pace and comes across as a slow-burning drama film. I was quite surprised by the film’s minor element of mystery, which once again relates more so to Fay personally and Homer’s past. The film’s third act and final moments were undoubtedly unexpected and shocking to the point that I wanted to be left alone for a least fifteen minutes afterwards to process everything I just saw on-screen.
Thanks to Imprint Films, this feature has been released on Blu-ray for the very first time. While the film’s audio track was rather pleasing, I was somewhat saddened to find there was a fair amount of grain throughout this feature, but again, I’m reminded that this film is over thirty years old.
Overall, I found this film to be quite interesting. It’s a dramatic film set in Hollywood with two men who are attempting to win the heart of an actress, resulting in a dangerous love triangle. Performances are genuinely pleasing, especially from Karen Black, whose character I truly disliked- a real credit to her talent. Donald Sutherland is also great. Still, viewers are required to be patient and wait for the actor to appear on-screen. The film’s ending is shocking and unexpected to the point that I am still processing it, even days after watching it.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden