Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Phenomena (1985) [second viewing, first in approx. eight years]

I think this works better if you've seen it before -- if you're able via experience to ignore the tortured machinations of the plot, you're left freer to follow the threads of anti-logic that run through Dario Argento's screwy supernatural slasher and appreciate the free-floating bursts of madness (chimp with a straight razor!) that crop up every so often. When he's good, Argento's prodigious visual talents and straight-faced indulgence of the bizarre and outre make up for the idiocy that tends to infest his writing, and here he's very good, pushing the illogic so far that Phenomena comes off like a hallucination or a waking nightmare. (It's not for nothing that Jennifer Connelly's character is a sleepwalker.) Also, this is the most explicit Argento's ever allowed himself to get vis-a-vis the fairy-tale aspect that serves as a throughline for much of his non-giallo work -- the best way to describe this is 'Suspiria as retold by the Grimm Brothers.' Goofy as hell, but also quite intense and riveting, in a dreamy, eerie sort of way; also, Ms. Connelly is quite fetching even as an adolescent.

Grade: B+ [up from B]


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