The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

little girl who lives down the lane poster 1976 movie jodie foster
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some interesting set-ups and strong acting

Movie has a weird flow that doesn't necessarily work

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

Studio:  American International Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  November 26, 1976

MPAA Rating:  PG

little girl who lives down the lane jodie foster martin sheen pedophile

I’m just taking an innocent fatherly interest in you

Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) is different than most girls in the small Long Island town.  She and her father moved to the small town but remain alone…keeping to themselves.  Rynn has a secret…her father is dead, and she is alone.  Hiding this from the local police officer Miglioriti (Mort Shuman), Rynn starts a relationship with his nephew Mario (Scott Jacoby).  Unfortunately, Rynn catches the eye of the local pedophile Frank Hallet (Martin Sheen) and son of the town’s richest inhabitant Mrs. Hallet (Alexis Smith)…and Frank’s not taking no for an answer.

Directed by Nicolas Gessner, The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is a suspense horror thriller.  The film was based on the 1974 book by Laird Koenig.  The movie was fairly well received by critics and over the years has gained a cult following.  The movie was also turned into a stage play by the writer.

little girl who lives down the lane mrs hallet killed alexis smith

Watch that last step…It’s a killer

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane was a bit of a shocker for the time.  It featured a thirteen-year-old girl living alone, having sex, and killing people…and starred the Disney darling Jodie Foster.  It has lost some of its edginess, but it still is an interesting film.

The story for the film is pretty odd.  It is a very subdued plot with no big kills really shown.  The body count for the type of film is rather high (with four people dead…not all killed), but the script has some weird sex and comedy running through it.  For a movie about a thirteen-year-old girl, it is kind of exploitive with the girl facing off against a serial pedophile and sleeping with a boy who is slightly older than her.

The movie really is a showcase for Jodie Foster.  At a relatively young age, she’s fighting her Disney image with this movie, though Freaky Friday had her also doing some adult stuff.  Foster is joined by Scott Jacoby who is a bit too goofy for a movie with such dark issues (though I do think the funny aspects of his uncle do fit in the script).  Martin Sheen plays a good creepy perv though I think his character pushes it a bit too hard to be realistic, and Alexis Smith is strong as his meddling mother since she has the audience wanting her dead.

little girl who lived down the lane scott jacoby jodie foster sex

A perfectly normal 13-year-old having sex and murdering people….

The movie is rated PG…but this is old PG.  I do like the ‘70s gritty look to it, but it also contains nudity with Jodie Foster’s character getting naked in a scene.  Foster really was below the age to do a nude scene so her sister Connie Foster stood in (though allegedly, Jodie was still upset that people would think it was her).  Also, for the death of a hamster, a real dead hamster was used for the scene which also upset Foster.

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is a odd movie and simply for that reason, it is worth seeking out.  It has that old exploitation look and dirty style to it that does not exist today and feels hard to capture when directors try.  Fans of Jodie Foster might be interested to see this change in her acting style, but Foster herself has subtly stated that it wasn’t her favorite movie.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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