The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane is one of my all-time favorite thrillers. The screenplay by Laird Koenig is absolutely faithful to his short novel and Jodie Foster carries this movie as Rynn, the thirteen-year-old girl who lives in the big house down the lane in what pretends to be a small village in Maine (it was filmed in Quebec). Martin Sheen is particularly creepy (in a Greg Stillson The Dead Zone way) as Frank Hallet, a local who loves children too much and the son of the real estate lady who rented Rynn and her mysterious poet father the house they live in.
This is one tight thriller where not a single scene nor actor is wasted. Alexis Smith plays the real estate lady who definitely annoys the little girl who lives down the lane when she barges in uninvited and starts rearranging the furniture as if this was her house. The purpose of her first scene is to show she is a strong woman and even Rynn, who is a very strong young woman, has difficulty coping with her at first. Scott Jacoby (who was brilliant as the lead in Baxter!, another very weird movie) is Mario the magician, a local teen who stumbles on Rynn’s secret and decides to help her keep her secret.
What makes The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane such a great thriller is that everything is so plausible. Yes, a thirteen year old can get away with murder if she is bright enough and Rynn is definitely one bright young lady. The explanations Rynn gives to what happened, why, and how come the bodies do not smell is also quite believable. It also works well because there is very little violence and no scary, creepy stuff (aside from Frank Hallet himself), a very good script, well-drawn characters, and very good actors even in the secondary roles.
For fans of the movie such as myself, a little factoid: yes, the very brief nude scene is there so MGM released the uncut and uncensored version of the movie. For you Frank Hallet types out there, no it is not Jodie Foster in that scene. Rumour is it is her sister.
By the way, the cover for this DVD is butt ugly and does no justice to the movie.