Forgotten Films: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

joint French, Canadian production 'Little Girl' was based on a novel by Laird Koenig, who also adapted it for the screen and later into a stage-play. An intoxicating brew of horror, mystery and romance, the films greatest asset is the assured and magnetic performance by a teenage Jodie Foster, who would have no less than five films released the same year, including her star making turn in Martin Scorsese's 'Taxi Driver'.
Foster plays Ryan, the daughter of a famous poet who is renting a New England seaside house from the tyrannical Mrs. Hallet. For reasons not yet made clear, Ryan is alone in the house. If anyone calls looking for her father she makes up lies, pretending he's working or sleeping. What Ryan is desperately trying to do, is keep people from the basement, which holds a terrible secret, one that will lead to another incident of violence.

There are numerous strifes visited on the capable Ryan, as she guards her secret. From a predatory pedophile, played with slimy glee by Martin Sheen, to the ill fated landlady Mrs. Hallet, and even a persistent cop. Eventually she finds solace in Mario, an understanding companion, who soon falls ill, leaving her alone again in the house, that come the movies end, feels like a prison. What sets 'Little Girl' apart from other films of the time, aside from the magnificent Foster, is its bizarre otherworldly feel, it doesn't fit as a movie. Events happen slowly and carefully, we spend most of the film in the house, trapped like Fosters character, leaving a claustrophobic feeling of entrapment. 
Jodie Foster simply radiates star quality, just one glance, or line of dialogue, can be masterfully twisted into something unique and enthralling. That Foster would go on to be a critical and commercial star, even winning Oscars, is of no surprise to anyone who watches this fascinating film.