The FilmDuring his cinematic career, Dario Argento has regularly touched upon elements of Gaston Leroux's work. In Terror of the Opera, a young singer is given the opportunity to follow her dreams through the efforts of a monstrous phantom-like killer, Argento cast his daughter Asia in a proper adaptation in 1998, and he co-produced an adaptation of another Leroux tale for an ailing Lucio Fulci which Sergio Stivaletti ended up directing(MDC). Here in his most recent outing, a misshapen monster is terrorising women in the bowels of the earth and the action opens in the familiar setting of an opera house.Here though any hopes of continuing the Leroux inspired ideas end as the action soon switches to that of a simple procedural with a maverick cop. As the title suggests, Argento has returned to the genre of murder set-pieces, desecrated beauty and twisted, twisted psyches. In the particular case of Giallo, an ugly killer born out of prostitution and drug addiction has decided to wreak his revenge on the foreign beauties of Italian society using Bundy like strategies borrowed from the top-shelf of serial killer movies.
Our maverick cop is explicitly mirrored in the killer as Argento unsubtly re-uses doppelgänger motifs from the likes of Deep Red, and sweeping cameras and that Argento touch are applied to a quite generic story that could easily have been direct to video fodder like most of the two original writers' work. For those who have found Argento's dalliance with younger American writers in his recent years to have been a disappointment, then I am afraid Giallo will not surprise you, and for those of you who have noticed an alarming frequency of recycled ideas from the directors earlier career then you should brace yourself for more of the same.Still, compared to the awful Il Cartaio and the schlocky La Terza Madre, Giallo is definitely a step up. There is a coherence to the visuals that suggests that the director was really attempting to imprint his style upon the project and even when the production standards fail badly in awful chase sequences and underwhelming special effects there is a commitment that is quite lacking in other recent projects. The cast is quite awful though, Brody repeats the dreadful dialogue of his troubled investigator with no conviction, Emmanuelle Seigner is still no actress and Elsa Pataky is simply asked to pout and scream.
I really got the feeling that Argento had had high hopes for this project which became dashed as it progressed, and he has expressed his dislike of the producer's edit of the film which I believe this is. Still, all that said Giallo will appeal to those who feel in on the jokes implied in the self copying and internal pun of the title and the killer's motivation, fans of the director will not be able to claim greatness for the film but I believe it stands up very well as a reminder of past glory. Newer viewers will be flummoxed by the pacing, the bad dialogue and the presence of an unintentionally comic killer.
Technical SpecsOffered on a single layer region two encoded disc, there are no extras other than two trailers for other Lionsgate films. This is therefore rather bare-bones and spartan as there are only a single English 5.1 mix and hard of hearing subtitles as options when viewing the feature. The transfer is not outstanding with contrast that is rather lacking in darker scenes, and colour that seems a little hot in others. Mild edge enhancement can be seen in certain sequences and the overall image lacks both sharpness and detail.The soundtrack does not excite particular praise with mild distortion and a sound mix which offers coverage but a lack of impressive placement around the channels. Whether it is meant or not, the killers dialogue is often unintelligible and the speaking of English, especially by Seigner, sometimes difficult to discern. This may of course be what the source materials are like, however the lack of whistles and bells in this treatment hardly encourages the viewer.
SummaryThis is far from a stellar film and far from a stellar presentation.
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Last updated: 24/04/2018 02:53:33