Ever since discovering the movie Deep Red in the 1980’s I have been a massive fan of director Dario Argento. His movies have been fresh and inspiring to anyone interested in either the horror or thriller genre. There have been good times and bad times along the way, with erstwhile offerings like Phantom Of The opera, Opera and The Stendhal Syndrome; but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be attending the premier of the worst Argento move I had ever seen.
Titled after the genre he revolutionised the movie Giallo (Giallo being the term used to describe a sexy, violent, often bloody thriller that generally is of Italian origin) is without a doubt one of the worst movies I have seen this year. And as Argento enthusiast Alan Jones took to the stage at the UK premier of Giallo at the 2009 Frightfest stating that he was holding a meeting of Argento Anonymous after the movie for anyone having difficulty coping, I should have known this would be bad.
The story of Giallo circles around a years old series of killings that have taken place in and around Milan. As the movie begins we see a young Japanese girl abducted by the creepy killer known as Yellow (Giallo is also the Italian word for the colour Yellow). Quickly moving on the story then moves on to Celine a beautiful model who is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her sister Linda (Emmanuel Seigner). Almost the very moment Linda arrives in Milan Celine goes missing, leaving Linda to call in the police, who it seems to have little interest in missing people, that is until Linda states that Celine is beautiful. Its at this point that she is sent to the basement of the police station where she discovers deep in its bowels New York cop Inspector Enzo Avolfi (Oscar winning Adrien Brody). Enzo has been following the movements of Yellow for many years and knows that Celine’s chances are very slim.
Dario Argento fans come to expect certain things from an Argento movie, they are firstly usually quite well paced, have a high body count of victims, and are pretty grotesque in their gory depiction. Imagine the horror of a thousand strong cinema audience as none of these things occurred. Worse still this serial killer thrillers murders all take place before the movie has even started, leaving two deaths in the entire movie one at the very start, and one at the end.
Giallo is painful to watch as it slowly bumbles about telling a story that you have little interest in. Argento attempts to develop an almost sympathy with the killer, who makes his first full facial appearance about thirty minutes into the movie, we are told a story of the son of a prostitute abandoned to a orphanage at an early age, and then developing a life long jaundiced condition that leaves him the victim of bullies since his formative years. Sadly the first time you see plastic faced killer Yellow (Byron Deidra) all you can do really is laugh because the make up is so bad.
Considering Brody received an Oscar for his role in the Pianist, there is not any major acting talent on show in the movie, but historically some of the most acclaimed actors Orsen Welles, Richard Burton and Marlon Brando all names that immediately spring to mind often seen incredibly wooden. Brody really looks like he is struggling to put any real life into the character, and at times almost seems like he is giving up.
The story develops at an incredibly slow pace, that by the time the characters make any real headway you have literally lost interest. The audience I attended the movie with had also found this a trial as a combination of dull story telling, cheesy lines, and even cheesier actors and actresses plummeted the audience into hysterics. During the last thirty minutes of the movie you could not go more than a minute without laughter breaking out across the cinema. As I left I heard someone outside saying as I stepped in to see if everything was okay I heard the audience in hysterics. Even David Hess (Last House On The Left, House On The Edge Of The Park, Smash Cut) the undisputed king of cheesy acting, who has starred in even cheesier movies stated in a conversation that this was the worst Argento movie ever finishing by saying “what was he thinking?”
I tried as I wrote this to think of something positive to state about the movie, I commend Argento for trying something different but it seems that his creative genius has all but left him. His hit and miss quality of recent years has finally given him one thing, the ultimate miss; Giallo is a terrible, terrible movie and I hope that I am never forced to see it again.
19th October 2010 Update
It has been strange that over a year from the first screenings of Giallo there appears to be no major worldwide release, the answer came on 19th October 2010 when a minor news story broke in which Adrien Brody it was revealed has filed a lawsuit against the producers of Giallo for allegedly not being paid.
It seems that having begun filming on the movie the actor discovered that it had no real funding, and that he had to arrange a new contract with the producers. This contract stipulated that his image could not be released before he was paid for his work. Of course since this time it has been in trailers, posters and limited screenings.
One would think that surely the only way to ensure pay was to let the film be seen, but then if you take into account my comments on his performance, and numerous other bloggers/reporters having seen the movie and you have to ask the question is Brody trying to get money, or trying to prevent himself from becoming a mockery when the whole world gets to see this “raw talent” in what has to be his worst ever acting performance.