28 April 2010

Clarky's Review: Don't Look Now

Ally brought Don't Look Now to the table at the tail end of the 2009/10 season, and whilst I was aware of the film, I had never seen it. Thankfully, I was better of because of this. Where my run in with another classic British horror, The Wicker Man, had faltered as it failed to live up to my expectations and the ending didn't quite have the same impact due to my familiarity with the subject, Don't Look Now confounded all my expectations. Although, looking back I'm not sure what those expectations were!

Often difficult to watch, although this was sometimes due to the graphic sex scene (never an easy watch at horror club - the setting just doesn't work!), but impossible to tear yourself away from Don't Look Now tells the story of a couple played by the breezy that is Julie Christie and a moustache ridden Donald Sutherland struggling to cope with the loss of their young daughter. Also thrown into the mix are two elderly sisters, one of whom is blind and claims to be psychic (I would be avoiding her like the plague!) and a serial killer that is on the loose.

Unsettling, unnerving and never pandering to its audience, this is a film that demands repeat viewings. The use of imagery and the motifs peppered throughout the film could have you puzzling over the film for years. Whilst this type of film may infuriate some, I was drawn in and wrapped up within the story. The use of editing, with flashforwards and flashbacks, is impeccable and gives a real sense of unease to the viewer. At times the film can seem disjointed yet at the climax everything falls into place, which just further underlines the brilliance of the film in my opinion.

Its interesting to note that one of the most memorable uses of this intercutting happened in an attempt to get the uncut sex scene past censors. It was expressly forbidden for "the rise and fall between the thighs" to be seen on screen, therefore Roeg intercut the scene with them post coitally getting ready and going out for dinner. Therefore, Roeg cut the post coital shots between "the rise and fall" in order that there was nothing untoward for the censors to object to. But clearly the viewer fills in these gaps for themselves. Thankfully, this trick to avoid the wrath of the censors has resulted in a phenomenal scene.

Essential viewing for any horror fan, but particularly so for a British horror fan. This may well be the best British horror ever made.


  1. I'm quite surprised by your review, Clarky. I didn't think you liked it as much as this. It's the type of film that I can't imagine ever getting made today, which is a great shame. It's a difficult watch, and even though I've seen it a couple of times now I'm still not exactly clear what I think of it. The scene where he rushes to his daughter at the lake is one of the most powerful I've seen in any film though.

  2. Good review Clarky I have to say I'm torn by this film. I admire it as an amzing bit of film making and believe it to be a classic of British horror however having seen it a couple times now I dot't actually like it. This is no reflection on the quality of the film which as I have said I think is excellent I just never warmed to it. To be perfectly honest I find the film boring and at times rambling for me its the Wicker Man everytime but excellent review clarky


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