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Review: Deep Red

So many movies to see, so little motivation to actually drag my ass out of bed. Fortunately, that’s why online streaming services were invented. I was in the mood for something vaguely Halloween-related (continuing the theme of last weekend’s screening of Opera), and Kanopy delivered just what the doctor ordered: Dario Argento’s Deep Red (also known by its native Italian title, Profondo Rosso).

While many of the director’s stylistic trademarks are present and accounted for (including hauntingly atmospheric cinematography and production design, voyeuristic POV shots, closeups so extreme that such minute details as a character’s fingerprints and the grooves on a vinyl record are clearly visible, and brutally mean-spirited kills), this earlier effort lacks the dreamlike narrative structure that made his mid-career work (particularly Suspiria and Inferno) so memorable. Instead, it presents a conventional murder mystery plot, complete with a hapless (and, frankly, kind of boring) “everyman” turned amateur sleuth, plenty of red herrings, convenient near misses, and more twists than the script can keep track of—in other words, the sort of typical Hitchcock and Bava fare that inspired the giallo sub-genre as a whole. Because the central “investigation” consists primarily of long, repetitive scenes in which our protagonist aimlessly wanders around a big, empty building before stumbling across a mutilated corpse, I found myself zoning out quite a bit—but every time I heard the opening riffs of that bangin’ Goblin score, I perked right up, because I knew I was about to be treated to some absolutely fucked up imagery.

Trust me, in this kind of film, that’s a good thing.

[Originally written October 13, 2018.]

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