22 February 2012

Fin's Review: Inferno

I'm on record as being a huge Dario Argento fan I love his vision and the balls to the wall craziness of his films. What ever else you can say about his films they are never boring and almost always a unique experience. However it can be difficult to review Argento's films in the same way as you would most other films out there. This is primarily due to the fact that the Italian directors approach to film making is truly unique. Argento is not concerned with logic and even coherent story telling instead he attempts to create a hypnotic dreamlike vision infused with woozy, fluid camera work and  strange outlandish lighting. The result of this is two fold, firstly Argentos films are both scary and fascinating and make the viewer feel that they are observing a bizarre nightmare world which they recognise but which is weirdly out of focus. Secondly the directors disregard for the central core of most film making: script, story and acting can make aspects of his films suffer. In a strange way Argento is operating at the level of genius and amateur at the same time. Beautiful lighting and inspired camera work go hand in hand with wooden scripts and seriously cheesy acting. But for me and fans of the directors work this is part of the charm of an Argento film and if the viewer can judge these films on their own grounds and not based on the criteria of other films it is an experience like no other.

Inferno is the sequel to Argento's most famous and best film Suspiria and as a result it is hard not to compare the two films. Ultimately Inferno falls short of the heights of Suspiria but only just. Inferno is a fine example of 'Absolute Cinema' where the style and atheistic of the film overrules the actual content of the story. Inferno's hypnotic combination of beauty and strangeness pull the viewer in to an experience which is made scarier by the lack of any conventional patterns or traditional markers of the horror genre. Anything can happen in this world and it often does. If being scary is the basic benchmark of success of any horror film Inferno succeeds. The film keeps you going both due to the beguiling mystery on screen and the feeling that the answers to the mystery are just around the corner. Argento never intends for his films to make sense and this is particularly true of Inferno and despite having a very basic story building upon the mythology first encountered in Surspiria it is a pretty token effort and the story is of secondary importance to the enjoyment of the film. The lighting in Inferno is simply stunning it is both bright and dark beautiful and menacing. Every scene is lit with an artificial glare of shades of blue and red. Much of the horror of Argento's films are,  unlike most horror films, seen in the full glare of these strange lights. In a way the terror is heightened as there is no dark to escape towards. Events occur in no pattern or rational order and often are never mentioned again. Characters do things which make no logical sense. And for me this incoherence is the main strength of Inferno. Argento draws his horror from the disorientation the viewer feels. 

As much as I love Inferno I mentioned above that it doesn't quite reach the heights of Suspiria. This is partly because Argento is more restrained here doing without the frantic Goblin soundtrack we associate with most of his films. The action on screen never reaches the intensity of pitch which Suspiria manages. However the ultimate reason Inferno falls slightly short of Supiria is the ending. For all the madness on screen it is the promise of a pay off that keeps the viewer interested but ultimately in Infenro there is no pay off. The mystery we feel so close to unveiling is simply forgotten and instead we get an ending which is dangerously close to a spoof of the worst moments of Hammer horror. We are given a very convenient fire and frankly cheesy make up effects. Having said this the weak ending should not take away from a unique and chilling viewing experience. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.