4 April 2011

Ally's Review: Deep Red

I was surprised when Fin brought Deep Red to the table. It is very rare that we double up on either a film series or director, so it was quite unexpected to follow Suspiria with Deep Red. It was a very good decision though. I think watching the two films in succession gave me a greater understanding of the truly original nature of Dario Argento.

So what about Deep Red? Well, it is very different from Suspiria. There is certainly a more coherent narrative in this film and the characters are more developed. That’s not to say that the film is marked by a clear narrative or interesting characters... just by way of comparison to Suspiria. It’s really a murder mystery and I must admit that I was kept guessing right until the end about the identity of the killer. I enjoyed the plot and there were prolonged moments of tension and a couple of genuine scares.

Watching the two films in succession really did give me a deeper appreciation for Argento’s craft. There are some absolutely gorgeous shots and ingenious camera angles: he is truly an auteur of the horror genre. However, one drawback of watching the films together is that comparison is unavoidable. In this regard, it is clear to me that I wasn’t as fully involved in Deep Red as I was in Suspiria. It’s quite difficult to explain – the plot and the characters were stronger, yet it just didn’t feel the same. Suspiria was a visceral experience, something that few horror films really achieve (although the term is often overused)...

Deep Red was a strong film with some gorgeous touches, and some obvious flaws. In my Suspiria review, I noted that the (many) flaws of the film did not detract from my experience, but I can’t say the same is true with Deep Red. The music (once again sound tracked by Goblin) was just bizarre. I didn’t really get the use of the strange funky bass. During moments where the tension should have been increasing, this weird music takes the viewer out of the experience. It was kind of comical in moments, but that didn’t appear to be the intention. The dubbing also bothered me more in this film than the last, but I’m not sure why. This film is possibly less flawed than Suspiria and yet there is something that could not match up to last week’s experience. It’s a slightly more conventional movie, I suppose.

Having said all that, Deep Red is a strong addition to our roster of films. The film is very good – it is tense, creepy and there are some real jumps. Argento clearly knows how to make his viewers feel uneasy. It certainly didn’t capture me in quite the same way that Suspiria did, but it is very rare that any horror film does.

It was a pleasure to get to know Argento a little better and I would be surprised if that is the last we see of him this season.

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