Thursday, 6 September 2012

Deep Red (1975)

For some Argento's followers it's Suspiria, where he mastered his combination of hard-hitting, visual predatory and out-of-this-world plotting. But for me Deep Red stands higher a notch retaining tight script quality and deadly suspense of a classic Italian thriller. As Suspiria dips in galaxies of coloured lenses, it also loses the edge bending slightly to the realms of an absurd. In comparison Deep Red is a pure breed occult giallo, which marks high point of Argento's career as a director and a storyteller. And last but not least Deep Red carries a heavyweight soundtrack of Italian psych/prog mindbenders – Goblin, who are witnessed here in their highest form (soundtrack of Suspiria was never that convincing for me).

In Deep Red Argento keeps his usual way of telling a story through the eyes of an accidental witness – kicked off as we remember in The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970) – but gets deeper into occult and subconscious imagery, which is one of these things keeping the viewer busy pondering all the possible connections. But as scripts were never strong side of giallo movies – we can really count all good ones with one hand – Argento's storyline is only a little above the line of average. Intrigue is set and running when main character gets tangled up in a mysterious murder... and then obviously playing the shrills follows as everything is boiled down to one-direction whodunit plot. This is balanced by flashes of retrospection on the other hand – a really sweet ingredient of Deep Red, which at least gives us a feeling of looking at something more than stereotype cheapie.

For those, who didn't see it, Deep Red features a story of psychopathy and murder! When Marc Daly (played by David Hemmings of Blow-Up fame) – a jazz pianist – casually passes a piazza in Rome on his way home, he becomes a witness of a ferocious assasination of a German psychic in her apartament, who's been just attending a parapsychological summit, where she discovered an evil apple while scanning the public, who decides to kill her. Haunted by what he saw, Marc cannot lay all the responsiblity on local police and starts his own, private investigation instead... convinced he's seen the face of a murderer, but cannot quite recall it until the end of the movie. He soon pairs with a local journalist – Gianna, who'll be of a great help and one of Argento's red herrings as well. She'll be pointed to as a possible doer more than once, but in the end she'll become a victim too.

Freudian madness is a driving force behind the movie and although Argento grabs mainly impressionist means to unveil it, it serves as an interesting background of a character of a killer. There's no point in pointing at the loopholes – as I said before, giallo as a genre has its obvious limitations – but Deep Red definitely serves its purpose as a classy weekend night thrill. Argento is all about topping Bava's Blood & Black Lace here, but he never really manages to do it, instead left tiptoeing behind. Well, there can only be one giallo master and for me that plays out between Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci. Argento was never my favourite – too baroque on one and too funny on the other hand. But if you one wanna see his swansong, I guess you need to look down here. Otherwise, just make two steps back and go straight to the original blueprint.