Mother of Tears (2007)
By: CJ on May 7, 2009  | 
Optimum Home Entertainment (UK). Region 2, PAL. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, English DD 2.0. 98 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Dario Argento
Starring: Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Udo Keir
Screenplay: Dario Argento, Adam Geirasch, Jace Anderson
Country: Italy/USA
External Links
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Throughout the 70's and 80's Dario Argento was the king of Italian cinema. Films such as Suspiria, Deep Red, Inferno and Tenebrae wowed audiences throughout the world with their sheer visual spectacle. The maestro, once dubbed the Italian Hitchcock, could do no wrong. However, in the late 80's, with the arrival of Opera, Argento began losing his touch. Whilst Opera is still held in high regard amongst genre fans, myself included, it was not well-received with Italian audiences. Throughout the 90's his career seemed to flounder, with Phantom of the Opera being a particular low point – not only a bad Argento film, but quite possibly one of the worst films I've ever seen. Stendahl Syndrome was certainly a step up from this disaster, but still bereft of the man's genius and again wasn't well-received. Things seemed to look promising with the arrival of Sleepless which, in my opinion, is a damn fine Giallo and shows that Argento is still capable of making great films. Then came The Card Player and the TV movie Do You Like Hitchcock? – both of which, if I'm honest, are mediocre Euro-thrillers. It was then with some excitement amongst genre fans that Argento was prepping the final instalment of the Three Mothers trilogy – preceding it were Suspiria and Inferno. But it was also with trepidation that the fan community awaited this film, considering Dario's recent track record. Would he be able to pull something special out of the hat? Well, the short answer is 'no'. But read on…

The Three Mothers are representative of the three faces of sorrow: sighs, shadows and tears. The title of each face, personified as witches, are Mater Lachrymarum, Mater Suspiriorum, and Mater Tenebrarum - Mother of Tears is concerned with Mater Lachrymarum. The film opens with the uncovering of an ancient burial site in Rome and a strange casket is discovered. The priest overseeing the reburial of the body takes the casket and sends it to the nearby museum to be examined. There, once the casket is opened, the malevolent force of Mater Lachrymarum is unleashed upon the world. Soon hordes of witches start arriving in Rome to celebrate the new birth of the Mother of Tears. Violence and lawlessness begins to erupt across Rome and it is left to Sarah (Asia Argento) to fend off and ultimately defeat this evil.

I know what you're thinking, you think it sounds great. Trust me, it isn't. It sounds better on paper than it does in actuality. The film itself is a muddled mess with a paper thin plot, and is executed so badly I can hardly put it into words. This didn't seem like an Argento film at all, but rather some cheap and shoddy b-movie that deserved to be hidden away in the straight-to-DVD section. His signature colour palette was absent: no soaring visuals, no hidden-but-obvious metaphors on screen and, finally, no talent in front of the camera. Even the gore set-pieces were badly handled and the usually reliable Sergio Stivaletti provided sub-par FX work. Claudio Simonetti's overblown score is just ridiculous and the script was so poorly written an infant could've penned it. If I heard Asia say 'What?' one more time I swear I was going to jump through the screen and kill her myself. Now, I know all this sounds rather harsh, but I'm an Argento fan, which makes this film all the more insulting. I know the genius he is capable of, so why is he delivering pap like this? I want the Dario Argento I love to make a film, not this shadow of his former self.

So where did it all go so wrong? I've no idea, really, the opening murder was very explicit and bloody and I was beginning to think 'Right, this is more like it' and then it just veered off into…nothingness. And that's the whole problem, the film is just…nothing. It goes nowhere, it doesn't even tell a proper story, it just sort of ambles along doing absolutely fuck all. Daria Nicolodi's appearance is utterly laughable too, she pops up like Casper the Friendly Ghost (and almost looks like it too) to help her daughter along, but it's just utterly ludicrous. Don't get me wrong, horror movies are nonsensical at the best of times, but they do operate on some basis of logic, however silly that logic that may be. By comparison, The Three Mothers isn't working from any kind of cohesive logic and just flies around wildly from one improbable scenario to another. It becomes apparent that the writers who assisted Dario (Adam Geirasch and Jace Anderson) have absolutely no understanding whatsoever of the whole Three Mothers concept and tried to Americanise the whole thing, which resulted in this disaster of a movie. No offence, but I believe that Europeans have more of an intuition about the whole Gothic horror genre, being steeped in history as it is, which is the European's heritage – and make no mistake, the Three Mothers trilogy is gothic horror at its finest. Well, at least the first two parts were, anyway.

So, to sum up…erm…just avoid it. As far as I'm concerned the final instalment of the Three Mothers trilogy still hasn't been made, because this definitely ain't it. In fact, I am attempting to wipe all memory of it from my consciousness, it's traumatised me that much. I'm in shock – I can't believe that Dario would dare present us with this travesty as being the long awaited conclusion to this series. The film is certainly horrific, but for all the wrong reasons – and Asia's appalling performance is probably the most horrific thing about this film, sad but true. Sorry, Dario, but I know you can do far, far better than this. I can understand that there would have been budget constraints, so why then write in ambitious stuff like Rome erupting in violence and then simply show about three dudes smashing up a car. It's hardly apocalyptic and certainly doesn't convey what was intended. Then there's the hordes of witches arriving in Rome – apparently - but I only counted about five, all of which sported dire Goth garb and looked decidedly non-scary. Even the great Udo Keir ends up just being a parody of himself and he looks very out of place in this movie. I just cannot put into words how bad this movie is. Save your money – or buy an earlier Argento, if you haven't seen them; Suspiria is as good a place to start as any. Please, though, don't believe the good things you might have heard about this movie, those reviewers are either blind, stupid, liars or all three.
As you would expect of a recent production, the transfer is faultless. The image is presented in 2.35:1 with anamorphic enhancement and is sharp and colourful. Optimum have certainly presented us with a faithful rendering of the film.
Two English audio options are provided – 5.1 and 2.0 surround. Both are fairly good, although dialogue seemed a bit weak and thin at some points, but the music and sound atmospherics sound excellent. Overall not a bad job, but not the best I've ever heard.
Extra Features
This really is a bare-bones affair with the only extra present being a theatrical trailer. I'm sure Optimum could have licensed the 'Making Of' featurette present on the Italian release, but I guess they didn't consider it worth their while. And after seeing the film, I wholeheartedly agree; I don't want to spend another millisecond in the company of this film, not even a featurette, where we'd probably have to endure scenes from the film all over again. So although no extras of any note are present, that's probably a good thing. The only extra I'd want to see on this disc is an on-camera apology from Dario Argento himself. No excuses, I want an apology dammit!!
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
It's inexcusable rubbish from a once-great horror/Giallo director. It's lamentable to see him come to this. I really hope for his sake that he comes back from this with something that will awe us once again. But I doubt it. I'd love to be proved wrong, though. In the final analysis, all I can say is avoid this and go watch one of his earlier, magnificent works – but not this diabolical mess of a movie. Sorry, Dario, I'm not sure I can forgive you for this. Did I say I hated this? Well I did. I never want to see this film again as long as I live. Harsh…but that's my reaction to it.

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