Saturday, October 18, 2014

31 Days of Horror-Day 18: Inferno (1980)

(dir. Dario Argento)

*First time viewing

    Few directors can so successfully break down the rules of story logic and character advancement in service of the image and still create a gripping film like Dario Argento. He doesn’t just make movies, rather he creates orchestras of horror. Inferno is a thematic sequel to Suspiria, continuing the tale of “The Three Mothers.” Seeing Suspiria isn’t required to understand Inferno, but watching both does add an interesting layer of mythology (and Suspiria is a masterpiece that should be watched regardless). The story takes place in Rome and New York and follows two siblings as they separately try to uncover the secret purpose of an apartment building housing something ancient and evil.

     Argento routinely places visuals above story. While this can be problematic at times, his visuals are like no other director in the genre. His stylistic use of lighting and color (aided by cinematographer Romano Albani) creates a palette not commonly seen in horror movies. Inferno is less narratively succinct than Suspiria and story-wise Argento doesn’t stretch himself much. Some of the plot points become muddled and there are shifts in character perspectives that only serve the orchestration of clever killings. Still, this has little effect on the overall quality of the movie. It’s occasionally messy story only serves to enhance the dreamlike quality of the film as it builds to a frantically paced finale. Coupled with the soundtrack by Keith Emerson, Inferno is gorgeously surreal and occasionally dizzying in its attempt to stun.

Scare Factor: 3/5 Dario Argento is one of the masters of horror and his style is unmistakable. While Inferno takes some time to build, the unique and well-choreographed death scenes are worth waiting for. It’s style over substance done the right way.

**Available to watch on Hulu.

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