Directed By – Peter Strickland
Starring – Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino, Fatma Mohamed, and Chiara D’Anna
A sound engineer’s work for an Italian horror studio becomes a terrifying case of life imitating art.
Horror is a genre that I find myself very amateur in. I’ve seen the essentials but have yet to really delve into the subculture that is the horror genre. Naturally I’ve missed some of the cult favorites that came out of Italy in the 70s. I think the only Italian horror film I’ve seen is Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” and to be honest I’m going to have to watch that again because I didn’t find it that great. Perhaps it’s a taste thing. Maybe it’ll develop over time. Peter Stricklands’ film is almost an homage to these films but strives for something original in the process. The film centers on sound engineer Gilderoy who is played with such subtly by Toby Jones. Gilderoy is hired by a bunch of pompous Italian filmmakers to engineer the sound for their horror film.
To be honest, I really didn’t get most of the film. I have some theories but ultimately the film is up to interpretation. It’s a slow burn. I actually had to finish it in two sittings. The reason being that the majority of the film is focused on the actual work of Gilderoy. There are long steady shots of Jones focusing on the audio being piped through his headset from the sound booth in front of him. His steady hands reach for the soundboard to manipulate the screams coming through. It’s a sensory driven film. Naturally the audio in the film is top notch as most of the tension and creepiness is taken from scenes involving the actresses’ blood curdling screams. Gilderoy, who is visibly disturbed by such a film, reacts with such subdued emotion but his eyes show how much discomfort he is in listening to such sounds.
The second half of the film, if you can get there, takes a very sharp right turn as if David Lynch was behind the wheel. This is where the essence of the film is felt as we are probed to decide what we are watching. Debates on how the film ends and what has been actually happening are divided arguments. I personally don’t have an idea of what was going on but it was fun ride getting there. Perhaps I’ll revisit it. It’s certainly an ambitious and unique take on the horror genre.
You know, I’m really starting to wonder why I put myself through this. Why do I watch these shlocky horror films that I know I’m going to hate? I think it may be a morbid curiosity to find that one modern horror film that falls past all teh rest and becomes good. Maybe it’s my ignored but deeply fond love of bad movies. Whatever it is, it still leads me to watch crap. And this is crap. The film has a good idea in which 26 “directors” have a letter of the alphabet and are given complete artistic reign over what they do with it. The results are abysmal. They range from the absolutely bonkers to the very horribly produced, to the not scary or funny at all, to the not so bad. The not so bad happens to be about three shorts. I’ll let you know which ones they are now…
D is for Dogfight
T is for Toilet
X is for XXL
That’s all. D os for Dogfight was actually pretty damn impressive and worth a search on youtube or a fast forward through through the film. The rest of the film just flat out sucks. If you’re going to watch it at least get really drunk with your friends that way you’ll have a fun time laughing.
I saw this is a packed theater in an urbanized area. I expected to have a horrible time but I think the fact that I saw it with so many people better’d my experience because I ended up really enjoying the film. This is a tame rated R film but also a very creepy one that capitalizes on scares the never come off cheap and had me jumping on more than one occasion. The biggest reason I enjoyed this was because it actually had good acting. Horror movies always have interesting ideas that are either carried out half assed or are ruined by cheap “talent”. None of those factors were present here as Vera Farminga, Patrick Wilson, and Lilli Taylor were all fantastic in this. It made the film more believable and ultimately more watchable. James Wan gave us the first Saw which I’m greatful for because I still think that’s a great film and he’s now given us one of the better horror films to come out in the last couple years. Lets just see if his next film which comes out in two months (Insidious II) lives up to his recent success.
Like most horror films pre-1940, you have to take the good with the “oh my god who made this” bad. This film staring the late great Bela Lugosi has both of these things. First off the acting besides the always sinister and foreboding Lugosi is horrible. I mean it’s MST3K horrible. The film however has a great musical score puncuated by some impressive makeup work and creepy sets. I just wish the film was more enjoyable on a plot level although there were some nice little moments of dread. The film also unofficially holds the title of first Hollywood production of anything zombie like so it’s really a history watch for me. There’s nothing wrong with watching this film, just don’t expect much.