Director – Dario Argento
Cast – Elio Germano, Chiara Conti, Elisabetta Rocchetti, Cristina Bondo, Ivan Morales, Edoardo Stoppa, Elena Maria Bellini, Horacio Jose Grigaitis
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is famed Italian horror/giallo director Dario Argento’s ode to Hitchcock, the acclaimed “master of suspense” and most common king of “Greatest Directors of All Time” lists. When I first heard of this film I was immediately attracted to the film’s title(YES, I do like Hitchcock) and the fact that this is a Dario Argento written/directed film, it was a must to see. Although I was not overly impressed with the film, I enjoyed it’s many shout outs to Hitchcock and found it to be an effective giallo for what it’s worth.
The film follows a college film student obsessed with the works of Hitchcock. One night, from his third story bedroom, he awakens to the sound of a murder taking place across the street. The victim is the mother of a beautiful girl he has become accustomed to watching as she changes and argues with her mother. Soon enough, he becomes enthralled in a web of suspicion as he takes it upon himself to figure out who killed her mother, and whether or not the girl had anything to do with it.
Sounds a little like Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” huh? Argento didn’t stop there, he included references to “Psycho”, “Vertigo”, “Dial M for Murder”, and “Strangers on a Train”, There are also many other references to Hitchcock’s other films not exactly done in technical film aspects, such as movie posters for some of Hitchcock’s other films in the background and whatnot. If you are a Hitchcock fan, then this is an interesting watch. Try and locate which scenes were references to the films I mentioned above and I may just treat you to a horror movie night! Of course, as long as you bring pizza, wings, beer, and a few bags of chips with ranch/French onion dip. Heh.
The story for the film is the typical giallo, with of course the feeling of “Rear Window” and “Dial M for Murder”(later on in the film). If you go in with an open mind, then the story should appeal to you, especially if you are new to the giallo scene. You won’t know what to expect, and that will heighten your experience. The suspense in this film is moderate, nothing too crazy, but enough to keep you interested. Argento’s direction is what really sells this film. Where the story lacked a bit, the direction was perfecto(heh, Italian speech works when reviewing giallos) and shows that Argento still has what it takes when it comes to parking his ass in the director’s chair. He always didn’t stray away from the gore in this film, which is always a nice touch to add. Be forewarned, there is not a lot of gore in this film, it is not that type of flick. Nonetheless, when there is gore it’s more than expected, and that always works for me.
My biggest gripe with this story(aside from it’s ridiculous introductory scene) is the acting. Maybe Argento had an extremely low budget to work with(but when has he NOT had a low budget?) and could only afford an actual college student to play the part of…the college student. The problems did not stop at him though, they only began. There were way too many bad acting performances in here, and I felt it turned away many of it’s viewers. Hopefully Argento’s direction is enough to distract you from the “House of the Dead” quality acting.
Overall, this is a moderate watch that is sure to do enough to please Argento and Hitchcock fans, but unfortunately as epic as this movie comes off as(Argento & Hitchcock? Hell yeah!), it is not epic.