Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dario Argento's Inferno (1980)

SUSPIRIA was an extremely successful international hit for Dario Argento, and he was faced with distributors wanting more of the same. The result is INFERNO, another surreal journey through trippy colorful sets and stylish horror scenarios, to the heart of a profound evil hidden away in a threatening architecture, like a secret for the film’s protagonist to unveil. INFERNO is a sequel to SUSPIRIA, but it was unlikely that a sequel was initially planned, so INFERNO takes on the task of relating the two films at the start by accounting the legend of the Three Mothers through a male voiceover that sounds while protagonist Rose (Irene Miracle) is reading a copy of an evil book, simply titled THE THREE MOTHERS. 

Now you don’t need to see SUSPIRIA first to enjoy INFERNO, in fact if there’s that little chance that you haven’t seen SUSPIRIA yet, I’d recommend checking out INFERNO first because there seems to be an inevitable comparison viewers make between the two that really ends up being an unfair fight for INFERNO. So, for the time being, I’m going to try to resist comparing the two films and instead focus only on INFERNO. 

INFERNO is a riddle in itself with a story based around three keys that characters must uncover in order to discover the truth behind the madness. The narration sort of disorients the viewer by shifting between three protagonists for the first half, giving it almost an episodic feel. It is unusual and at the same time very interesting that we at first spend some weird moments getting acquainted with the character of Rose sending a letter to her brother Mark (Leigh McCloskey) studying music in Rome before the story abruptly shifts to one of Mark’s classmates, Sara (Eleonora Giorgi), who happens to pick up the letter instead. When Sara reads the letter she ends up being so disturbed and troubled by what she’s read that on her way home she makes a detour to the library to check out a copy of THE THREE MOTHERS, a book that turns out to be more threatening than the Necronomicon. It seems rather hard to believe that a grown woman would be this influenced by the contents of a letter. It’s almost as if Sara is demonstrating a childlike impressionability. 

The following scene of Sara at the Library is fabulous and consists of terrific cinematography and dusty old bookshelves that tower to dizzying heights. A sinister stare from a young lady studying ends up giving off a surreal feeling that something very evil and powerful happens to be stalking Sara.

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