Monday, October 11, 2010
It’s Ronald Wilby’s birthday but the only one in attendance is his frail, yet smothering mother. We soon learn that she has been divorced from Ronald’s father for many years and agreed to eschew alimony and child support if he stayed out of their lives. Ronald’s mother is his sole contact with the outside world and as a result Ronald has no ability to navigate the waters of human relationships. This is made abundantly clear when he awkwardly asks a girl out for a date. She not only rejects him but also joins her friends in ridiculing him. Pissed off Ronald leaves this situation only to run into a little girl on the street who also mocks him. In a fit of rage he shoves her and she falls, landing on a rock and proceeds to die. Not knowing how to handle this unexpected event he panics and buries her.
Don't mess with Bad Ronald
Ronald reveals this incident to his mother who realizes that her naïve son will go away for life if he’s caught. The two concoct a strange plan, they will wall off a spare bathroom under the stairs and Ronald will live there until the police lose interest and move onto other cases. They install a small trapdoor below the pantry so Ronald is able to gain access to food. The plan works perfectly until Ronald’s mother goes to the hospital for a simple procedure and proceeds to die.
Nosey old ladies should mind their own business
The house is soon sold to an unsuspecting couple that has 3 teenage daughters. Ronald begins to slip into a fantasy world much like Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters (1982) and soon drills holes throughout the house to keep an eye on things. One of the teenage girls expresses her concern that she hears noises at night but her comments are summarily dismissed (it’s an old house and old homes make noise). Things start to go awry as Ronald becomes increasingly unhinged.
This is another dark gem from the made-for-TV era. I don’t know how these films would play to someone who didn’t grow up during this time, but with limited viewing choices in the days before cable, satellite, etc, these kinds of films were an absolute treat. They not only provided something unique, they also offered a darker glimpse of humanity that you normally wouldn’t find in the era of The Love Boat. Fun.