Apart from that interesting (but somewhat banal) setup, the viewer can also enjoy the fact that it's a high-budget product with nice locations, a sumptuous score and a title sequence that could rival the ones done for Bond-movies in technical brilliance. And for those who enjoy such things (I do), you also get some surprisingly hot gay love-making between the two men even though there is no full-frontal nudity.
BUT somewhere along the way the story starts to tread water and the erratic behavior of the husband begins to get on your nerves. Basically he wants to have his cake and eat it and expect everyone else to understand HIM even though he never tries very hard to understand either his wife or his lover, who both love him dearly and want him for themselves. In a number of very typical Spanish scenes with two parts arguing (husband/wife, husband/lover), the husband whines about his situation and very soon all patience and sympathy for him has reached zero level!
So when the end finally comes, you almost breathe a sigh of relief that the wife and lover now can go on with their lives and be happy because they are truly nice people at the core and don't deserve all the aggravation the husband has caused them. So, all in all, do take a look and enjoy this high-gloss gay melodrama, it is certainly easy on the eyes and entertaining, but don't expect to be deeply moved.
LTM has a decent pace (actually I find "Suspiria" too slow for my liking), fair to awful performances (nothing new in an Argento film) and some okay set-pieces. But the gaudy visuals are almost nowhere to be seen, the style Argento offered us in the 70s and 80s has changed into a kind of polished and subdued style. Gone are the vibrant colors (almost) from "Inferno" and "Suspiria", gone is the eye-catching art design. One particular scene that underline this is a taxi-ride through Rome where Argento tries to copy a similar scene from "Inferno", but he doesn't even come close to the same intensity.
The finale is also a bit disappointing, but not in a too damaging way. It just feels like that after 90 minutes of build-up, you expect more of a fight between Asia and Mater Lacrymarum, who is destroyed far to easily for someone who is supposed to be powerful and omnipotent. And what about Asias magical powers? She discovers that she has quite a few tricks up her sleeve in that respect, but when the push comes to shove, she doesn't use any one of them. And there is also the fact that the police inspector, a quite insignificant role until the finale, shows up from nowhere and is made into a hero of some sort. He could have been eliminated from the final quarter without anyone noticing it.
*end of spoilers*
And there is one thing I really dislike in this movie...and that is the way the witches are presented. Apparently modern day witches look like supermodels in goth-gear, have hideous make-up and laugh hysterically at nothing unless they are occupied with semi-lesbian activities! You could very well say that they look frightening, but in totally the wrong way. They ALMOST ruined the movie for me, but only almost.
Because when I distance myself from the previous two ma(s)terpieces and judge this movie by itself, it's not really that bad (except for the witches). Like I have stated before, the pace is decent and almost never flags, performances are variable (to say the least) but fun, there is gore a-plenty (some scenes of murder are truly nasty!), some female nudity (for those who like that sort of thing with a lesbian flavor to it), one GREAT and unexpected scare, a (mostly) good score with echoes from both "Inferno" and "Suspiria"...and the movie looks good although not in the Argento-way, but more mainstream. I get the feeling that good old Dario had fun doing this movie. And the viewer will certainly never get bored...at least I wasn't.
Asia is adequate, but sometimes she shows examples of truly baaaad acting, like in a scene where she is longing for her dead mother and tries to sob. That was embarrassing! She is at her best when she has to be tough and determined. Otherwise I thought the acting was mostly quite okay, at least when you consider what kind of characterizations and lines they had to work with sometimes. Poor Daria Nicolodi was particularly unfortunate in this respect, reduced to a (poor) ghostly vision. The best set-piece is reserved for the beginning, when the antique urn is opened and the evil is unleashed. Other than that, we get a few scattered scenes where Argento can show at least something of his mastery of the medium.
All in all, I was entertained and had this movie been directed by a newcomer or someone else than Dario Argento, I think I would have given this horror movie an 8 in rating. But since I had higher expectations, it has to be a 7. Still, LTM is better than "Cartaio" (although I admire that Dario was trying something new), "Sleepless" (a decent effort but it felt a little "flat" and like he was directing half asleep) and "Phantom" (one big, expensive and failed joke!) and it's probably the best he has done since "Opera" (even though I have a soft spot for "Trauma"), so I have high hopes that his next move will be in the right direction.
J-horror has boomed for the last five-six years but the films themselves have on more than one account been repetitive and carbon copies of a previous success. This is one of them.
Basically this is a supernatural slasher movie. The beginning is promising with chilling scenes from a morgue where a dead girl has her eyes graphically sewn together, but soon after opens them. However, after that, it's quickly downhill for this flick.
To be kind I will start with the things I like about "Gawi". On the plus side, the visuals are gaudy and the movie looks great for it's type. For those who like their horror movies gory there are a few nicely executed (no pun intended) murder scenes. We also get a few good suspense sequences/set-pieces.
However, there are quite a few drawbacks also...
First of all, and my major complaint about this movie, is that the plot skips and jumps forwards and backwards in time with an alarming intensity. Usually that's not a problem for me, but here, where the students look exactly the same no matter what age they are, I was confused on more than one occasion.
The performances are okay I guess (a little hard to tell when you don't know the language), but seem a little stiff. And for a horror movie, I don't think it was scary enough. For a while I was quite bored actually.
Being a fan of giallo movies, I was expecting quite a lot from "Nightmare", but unfortunately I was quite disappointed.
Then the movie settles down for some character introduction as our "heroines" begin their travel downwards into the unknown abyss. Soon they are trapped within an unfamiliar cave system and have to find another way out than the hole from where they entered. While the terrors of climbing in a dark and claustrophobic environment makes itself felt quite early (I developed sweaty palms long before I had expected!), the introduction of the underground creatures was enough to send me flying out of my seat when I watched this (among with almost the whole cinema salon audience). The atonal score that accompanies the mayhem is very effective and contributes to the overall atmosphere of dread. It's also a very nicely shot movie, gaining much from the contrast between dark and (occasional) light.
There's a lot I like about this movie, but also a few things that doesn't work (according to me):
The latex creation of the creatures are not very convincing when they are viewed up close (they should have been kept in the dark for a longer time) and the ending...well, let's just say that I thought it was interesting and very frustrating in about equal measures (sequel, anyone?!). And the women were not very interesting from the beginning. They act as good as can be expected with this type of material, but the audience is not given enough of background information to really care for them...well, maybe for Sarah. There are also a few lapses in logic. Nothing new with this genre, I would say..;D
All in all though, a superb horror movie with guts and gore and enough tension to fill at least three or four lesser horror movies. For the fans, it's a MUST!
First of all, we have the dialog. It's awful most of the time (there was quite a few giggles in the audience here and there when I saw it) and merely adequate elsewhere. It is also barely audible during a lot of scenes, drowning under the pressure of sound effects and the soundtrack (however that might not be such a bad thing after all considering the stupid lines we have to listen to!). There is one line in the whole movie that makes a reference to the "I know what you did last summer"-movies, indicating that the film makers wrote it all as one big joke, but I doubt it.
And the ending...well, some will hate it, others will dig it. For me, it was mostly a question of the former because the final twist comes from out of nowhere! If the audience had been given some clues to the girls mental status, I might have thought otherwise. It also throws all logic out of the window, because the murderer could never had been in place for some of the kills! But as an avid horror fan I have learned to live with these inconsistencies in Spanish and Italian movies.
But all is not bad. The movie has a big budget appearance, mainly due to the excellent cinematography (the scenes from past times really shines here), tight editing and an atmospheric soundtrack. Even though most of the actors are pretty bad, Anita Briem is an exception, making the most of what she has to work with. Real screen presence!
And, like I mentioned before, the killings are gory enough for the fans of such stuff and they are usually accompanied by very good special effects involving images of water (but the "water theme" tends to get tiresome in the end though).
So, to end this review, it's a movie that is quite fun in a "so-bad-it's-good" kind of way and it's also pleasing to the eye. But don't expect too much because it doesn't deliver as you probably think it will, judging from trailer and plot descriptions.
Yes, this is the usual "dead teenager"-movie except for the fact that these kids are in their twenties and, save for the plucky heroine, sometimes incredibly stupid. But this is something normal in these kind of movie, come to think of it. If you are threatened by an unseen pickup driver, smell a truly horrendous odor in the air and are surrounded by a threatening atmosphere, would you CAMP in a place like this? I guess most of us wouldn't, but these kids do.
A couple of them also hitch a ride with a guy who seems to be some sort of offspring to the banjoing population we encountered in "Deliverance", also not the kind of action I would take.
However, all things are not bad. The (straight) guys get so see Paris Hilton scampering around in red underwear before getting killed where it probably hurts her the least...;) The atmosphere in the small, seemingly deserted, town these post-teens wander into is also noteworthy. And the gore hounds get theirs in some nasty scenes. It is not that the kills themselves are particularly bloody, but they are executed in a very way so that you can really feel the agony some of these victims must be going thru. The first kill with the guy sprayed in wax is quite eerie and not easily forgotten.
And like I mentioned before, the finale is indeed spectacular! Worth the price of admission itself.
The plot is absurd, no doubt about it. We get a budding romance, incest (well, sort of), psychopaths galore, voyeurism and a little sex. I wasn't expecting a lot when I put started to watch this DVD, but soon became involved in this twisting tale of murder and betrayal. Eva (Hilde De Baerdemaeker) becomes a witness to what might have been a murder or just a suicide. Along the way she meets Dieter (Geert Hunaerts who is a major hunk!) who's a man who might or might not be a raving psychopath. What follows is a suspenseful tale, not in the least predictable, but very implausible.
Stylishly shot (for the most part in picturesque Gent), this is a movie that is very easy on the eyes and the comparison other reviewers have made to this being a Belgian "giallo" is quite accurate I think. Dario Argento's "Tenebrae" spring to mind since it is built the same way story wise and also contains a wild and gory climax. Actually, the climax is quite unexpected because the build-up until then points to a more subtle ending. Instead we get a really whacked out finale with the blood flowing very freely. I liked it even though it sometimes feels a bit rushed! :)
The actors do okay, I guess. I wasn't very impressed by Hilde De Baerdemaeker (at crucial moments she seems a bit unresponsive), but considering this was her first part in a major movie it's not that bad. Geert Hunaerts is fine as the mysterious Dieter and Hilde Van Mieghem really shines as the "mother" who turns out to be...well I don't want to spoil to much for any future viewers, let's just say that she is hiding some VERY dark secrets behind her respectable exterior. A chilling performance and, at the same time, an amusing one too.
I wasn't to impressed by the soundtrack. It serves it's purpose I guess, but it's your average "suspense track". Otherwise a movie I thoroughly enjoyed even if I understand that this might not be everyone's "cup of tea", so to speak. Give it a try, however!
It also shows sometimes that he is working in another medium (television), style-wise. But apart from that, this is a playful and lightweight homage to Alfred Hitchcock, that works fairly well within the constrains of the medium.
It has a sympathetic lead in Elio Germano (but the female are more formulaic) and most actors are a lot better that what is common in an Argento-movie. The beginning of the movie is very well set-up when you get a peak into several apartments a la "Rear window". The script is full of references to different Hitchcock-movies, but there are also nods towards Brian dePalma and...Dario Argento himself! There are scenes that seems to have been lifted more or less intact from his other creations like "Deep red", "Opera" and "Inferno". But this is not necessarily a negative thing since all this is mostly woven into the plot with a lot of skill. There is only one murder (but two death scenes), but it is quite violent and the scene leading up to it is very suspenseful. The final 10 minutes are also edge-of-your-seat material.
Also worth mentioning is the nice cinematography by Fasano (especially the shots at night are very nice to look at). And the score by Pino Dinaggio is absolutely top-notch! It's certainly a lot better than the anonymous music he put together for Dario in "Trauma" and might remind you of his work for Brian de Palma.
But some things don't work, for instance the scene where our "hero" breaks his leg. It is too drawn out even though it's suspenseful in the beginning. The pace flags occasionally and is generally erratic. And even if the climax is exciting, I cannot shake of a feeling that it could have been even better with a tighter script. It seems that Argento/Ferrini lost interest somehow in their intriguing little tale of terror. And finally, the usual quibble when it comes to an Argento film...the dubbing is sometimes truly bad, at best it's acceptable. And note that I saw the Italian version! God only knows why italians often prefer to dub instead of using the original sound?!
But all in all, a very decent outing by Mr Argento. It certainly doesn't top "Suspiria", "Inferno", "Deep red" or his other masterpieces (it doesn't even top the underrated "Trauma" which is resembles sometimes), but it is absolutely one of the best things he's done since "Opera".
Things perk up a bit when they arrive to their destination, a beautiful castle somewhere on the french countryside, and meet their host, a rather creepy guy in a wheelchair who makes sexual advances to one of the boys. He has an autistic son who stares ominously throughout the picture and he is quite eerie actually. The movie still looks great and there is a fair amount of tension for half an hour or so.
But after this introduction of almost all of the characters NOTHING HAPPENS for quite a while. We get quite a few scenes with some tension, but no payoff. Since it is a french production, they also throw in some female full frontal nudity in a lesbian love scene for those who like that sort of thing (I don't..). There is a police showing up from nowhere and he disappears just within a few minutes for some reason, only to show up briefly at the end. And the play these youngsters perform is truly abominable. If I had hired these actors I would have asked for a refund!
The final half hour is a little better (when the killings start - they are lensed in a loving, stylish and gory way), but unfortunately the story never gets really exciting or involving. Real suspense is sadly lacking for the most part. There is a great potential buried somewhere here, but apart from the gorgeous visuals and assured directing, it is mostly ignored. The acting is okay I guess (and most of the cast look good!). Clotilde Courau is an adequate heroine, but has tends to laugh hysterically in all the wrong places. It really got on my nerves in the end.
The camera LOVES Vincent Lecoeur but he hasn't a lot to work with like most of the others. * minor spoiler * The only part with some teeth is Axel de Fersen (the wheelchair guy) and actor François Berléand really hams it up entertainingly in that part. And the old horror movie cliché is still valid, a man or woman in a wheelchair certainly has some hidden secrets. *End of spoiler *
After all this you might expect me to dislike this movie. Wrong! I truly enjoyed it for a number of reasons. It's gaudy look and big-budget visuals (it really is a feast for the eyes). One of the first shots is a bird against a slightly cloudy sky and that image is almost worth the price of admission alone. The luxurious and atmospheric score that accompanies all the mayhem is classy and nice. The murder set-pieces that are choreographed with assurance and style. Let's just hope that this director can sink his teeth in a better script next time. Then we might TRULY be able to look forward to a great horror movie, one that even could become a classic within it's genre!
Also hurtful is the way the characters are presented. We can feel no sympathy for these young spoiled brats as they meet their bloody ends. The awful dubbing on the DVD I saw was also a big drawback. At best it's amusing, for the most part it's irritating. However, everything is not bad. The scenery is awesome, we get some nice killings with a sickle and Elke Sommer does a quite nice turn as the stern housekeeper (it would have been nice if she had been the villain of this movie, but alas...), still looking quite good for her age.
This movie also contains quite a few comedic scenes, rarely found in American or Italian slashers. They mostly involve some bumbling cops and if you like that or not is a matter of taste. Quite a few scenes border on farce actually, even a few bloody ones. Especially as they are accompanied by some really strange and in-appropriate music.
So "Flashback" is a decent time waster, but I wouldn't pay too much to see it.
I really liked this movie. Extremely well made and with a spooky atmosphere you could almost touch. However, the ending is almost a carbon copy of the ending in "Ringu", and the pace of the movie itself is erratic. These Asian ghost stories mostly tend to be on the slow side, but that is usually to their advantage. But in "Phone", we sometimes get scenes that tends to make one lose interest, because nothing happens that has any relevance to the story. Fortunately, these moments are quite few, and all in all, this is one horror movie that will give chills to most people, I think.
*MINOR SPOILER* And in "Il cartaio" the three main actors are actually very good! They are people you can care about and when they are in danger or die, you feel sorry for them. *END OF SPOILER* Like I mentioned before, I enjoyed the bleak look of the movie...as always classy camera-work in every frame of an Argento picture! And Claudio Simonetti's score is his best in years even though you might be just a little bit tired of it by the time the movie reaches it's conclusion. And talking about the finale, I found it both interesting, but at the same time also maybe a little bit of a letdown. However, the endings have been a bit weak lately in Dario's films. Not since "Tenebrae" has there been a really powerful conclusion. And two minor complaints finally...it was too easy to guess who the killer was. This has been mentioned before and I think it is true. The killer's identity could have been better camouflaged without a "certain scene" (you will know which one). And the card scenes went on too long on two occasions. The constant screaming from the victims became annoying in these scenes and I almost wanted them to die just to make them shut up! Otherwise, his best work in years and a film where he is not just content with repeating an old formula (like in "Sleepless" which I liked anyhow), but is actually trying to find a whole new path in his art.
But the script and some performances are less than noteworthy. Once the whole gimmick of the plot is settled we are not granted any surprises at all and many things are left unexplained. There are plot holes big enough to drive trucks through!! And most of the actors are sleepwalking for their pay-checks, but somehow think that this was director Malone's intention just to match their mood with the environment they live and work in. Only Stephen Rea manages some sort of "real" acting and even he is not up to his usual standards (but admittedly he has very little to work with and develop). At times I thought that some of the actors were dubbed...at least there is something not quite right here (the movie was shot in Luxemburg apparently).
A rather ambitious movie, but there were just a little more talent needed in the script to pull the whole thing off. But I don't think it's all that bad as some people here are thinking...quite the opposite.
But there is nothing really memorable!! After a promising start the movie loses it's aim and becomes totally predictable. Scene after predictable scene follows and I could see everyone coming. The male characters are rather colorless and sadly underdeveloped, especially Sarandon's husband. And the script is not always as fun as it think it is. It's too bad really, considering the talent in front of and behind the camera, because there is a really good movie in there somewhere (or maybe it already had been made as "Almost famous"?).