Thursday, March 16, 2023

INFERNO (Dario Argento, 1980, Italy)

A mysterious tome shines the light of revelation upon a maternal shadow, leading to a conflagration that eclipses a diabolical darkness. Dario Argento’s sequel to SUSPIRIA is style over substance, a patchwork of events that operates outside the confines of traditional narrative but are woven together to create an enigma, ripe with anxiety and desperation.

Rose is strangely gifted a book, detailing an architecture of superstition and fear, the building blocks of a metaphysical reality that transcends and transforms rationality. She follows the clues until she descends into the subterranean sepulcher buried in the very foundation of her home, a threat under her very feet. Rose discovers a key but forfeits her life, a long-distance connection that beckons her brother to her eerie domicile that is now her tomb. This first act is brilliant as Argento makes this fluid world burst with surface tension, as Rose dives into a watery hole to retrieve her keychain, molested by a rotting corpse, an inverted world of elemental mystery. Unfortunately, Argento fails to revisit (or explain) this set piece and the remainder of the narrative becomes mere flotsam and jetsam.

The film's structure becomes tangential vignettes drenched in primary colors and surrealistic fury, an atmosphere of confounding narrative but extraordinary design. The characters are merely beings who stumble through the story as Argento doesn't care to forge an empathetic link to the viewer, fodder for the visual hijinks.

Final Grade: (B-)