With that in mind I would recommend Amer only to Giallo enthusiasts. It’s a lovingly crafted, seductively photographed valentine to those murderous tales of the past, but its rejection of simple storytelling essentials – a plot, any tangible characterizations, a discernible narrative that invites identification – will alienate all but the most ardent enthusiasts. The film accelerates its progenitors’ attractive qualities so that the film is little more than a ninety-minute mood piece, symbolically charting the three ages of woman – childhood, adolescence and adulthood – in three distinct acts where the same child, teenager and woman prowls the interiors and grounds of a decrepit, moody Italian château throughout an almost dialogue-free run-time. It is certainly atmospheric and expertly choreographed – the opening section is by far the best with some genuine knuckle-whitening twists and a keen sense of visual panache – but the repetition begins to grate and ultimately frustrate as yet another sequence unfurls in a strange, detached limbo from its precursor. For passing fans this can be quite an intellectual exercise, irritating and visually enthralling, but I’m sure the genuine Giallo aficionados will find it indispensable.
During a compelling Q&A, the directors revealed the tricks of their trade, noting how the film lifted not only from the genre classics (apparently Fulci’s Lizard in a Woman’s Skin was a big influence) but also from the Japanese cycle of pinku movies, with their curious blend of female sexuality and taboo imagery. One of the film’s major accomplishments is its distinctive and eerie sound design, replete with creepy detail work, seeming to compensate for the lack of dialogue. The team factored in an 8 week post-production Foley schedule in addition to the standard ten week editing window. The film was shot in a reputedly haunted villa close to the director’s home town, an apt choice as he knew the location very well from sneaking into the grounds as a youngster with his friends on spooky dares. An exploration of the five senses was the mantra that informed the shaping and storyboarding of the film, and in that sense one has to concur that the film’s execution was superb; the tensing of the audience when that razor is bisected across a victims teeth in a closing movement with its subsequent nails on a blackboard aural reaction of the hardwired audience will probably serve as some of the most uncomfortable few seconds at the cinema this year, and Transformers 3 isn’t out until June. Next up, the duo are raising funds for their superbly titled sophomore follow-up, The Strange Colour of Your Bodies’ Tears.
Most of the fun of seeing Argento’s wicked imagination on screen was the companionship of fellow fans, all of whom laughed along at the inappropriate dialogue, ridiculous developments and hysterical terminations. The film gains a thematic momentum as the bodies stack up and the list of potential suspects are eroded, I personally found the most terrifying aspect of the movie was that almost superhuman Doberman that chases one victim to ground, hurtling effortlessly over fifteen foot chain-link fences; give me some sexually perverted, knife wielding psychopath to combat rather than Cujo’s more dexterous whelp any day of the week. The screening was of a clear and corrected Blu-Ray print which fans will be delighted to hear should be in shops by April courtesy of Anchor Bay, a re-issue that is accompanied with an expert commentary from Alan Jones and Kim Newman, recorded in London this week. Deconstructing its parent genre, its director (witness the scene where the author is accosted for his unacceptable misogyny) and its doomed and unfortunate cast with a lacerating precision, Tenebrae remains one of the most beloved and influential Giallo ever made.