Film Review: Giallo
It’s always sad to watch somebody you love grow old and begin to lose trace of their former self. Dario Argento is sadly going through this phase. Once one of the finest horror directors on the planet making numerous classics like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Suspiria, Argento is now reduced to making films like Giallo, a slasher film with almost nothing redeemable. Following a detective on the case of a brutal, jaundiced serial killer, Giallo is cheap torture at its worst.
Adrien Brody plays dual roles; melodramatic but at least passable as the detective, but absolutely abysmal as the rasping voiced, grotesquely deformed killer, angry due to the nickname “yellow” (not giallo, the Italian version which gives its name to the film and would make more sense). The only other performance of note is Emmanuelle Seigner as the girl whose sister is taken by Giallo. She is also terrible.
One thing that is usually redeeming in any Argento film is the violence; stylish set pieces and inventive gore have littered his career throughout. Think of the classic scenes: the opening double murder of Suspiria, the elevator decapitation of Deep Red, even the train murder of Cat O’ Nine Tails. Even when the film isn’t firing on all cylinders, you can at least expect a brilliant set piece to redeem it slightly. Not in Giallo; just a series of grungy torture scenes in dim rooms, with an emphasis on nasty gore over style. The big confrontation is a lame rooftop meeting that lasts all of thirty seconds, and the ending, which could redeem it, is one of the most anticlimactic, pointless endings I’ve ever seen on a horror film. It makes the ending to 80’s effort Phenomena look genius in comparision.
If you’re a diehard Argento fan, avoid this film, to avoid seeing the master of horror reduced to making cheap, sleazy, depressing tortue films with no merit. If you’re looking into Argento films, check out his late 60’s and 70’s output to see some horror masterpieces. If you’re a torture fan, go watch The Horseman or The Loved Ones, to see how a torture film should be done. Unless you’re a strong Adrien Brody/Dario Argento fan, just avoid Giallo full stop.
By Harry Ford