Giallo (2009)
By: Sam Bowron on July 23, 2012  | 
Eagle | Region 4, PAL | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 88 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Dario Argento
Starring: Adrien Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner, Elsa Pataky, Robert Miano
Screenplay: Dario Argento, Jim Agnew, Sean Keller
Country: USA, UK, Spain, Italy
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For the die-hard horror fan, the cherished memories we have of our favorite filmmakers are something special indeed. The pioneering work of mavericks such as George A. Romero, Wes Craven and John Carpenter, filmmakers who have made the mark upon the industry as cinematic innovators of style and substance, continue to inspire young and burgeoning talent; their seminal classics standing the test of time as supreme examples of the genre in every way. Something about these names spells visionary. Master. Genius.

And then there's us: the fans. In many ways we are both a blessing and a curse to these men, especially when their aptitude for scaring us begins to flounder. We can often be greedy and naïve, demanding masterpiece after masterpiece from our heroes regardless of whether or not they are still in possession of the same energy so readily apparent in their formative years. Many people out there still hope for another phenomenal movie from Tobe Hooper when deep down they know it's almost certain such a film will never materialize.

The same goes for Dario Argento, arguably the grand master of the Italian 'giallo' sub-genre. As any self-respecting devotee will profess, the recent additions to the aforementioned veteran's oeuvre have continued to disappoint the majority of filmgoers for the better part of fifteen or more years. Needless to say, this steady devolution into mediocrity continues with the deeply underwhelming Giallo, a film that by virtue of its title alone could have soared its creator back into the limelight

The word could being the operative of course.

Headed back to Rome to visit her sister Linda (Emmanuelle Seigner), Celine (Elsa Pataky) is abducted by a cab driver and held captive at an undisclosed location. In an attempt to report her sister's disappearance to the local authorities, Linda is given the cold shoulder and quickly off-handed to Inspector Enzo Avolfi (Adrian Brody), a disgruntled New York cop investigating a series of brutal murders in the city. Avolfi suspects the young woman in question may be the next victim of the savage killer and the two attempt to solve the escalating crimes and recover Celine in the process.

Whilst there are indeed varying degrees of opinion either side of the subject, it is somewhat safe to say that Argento's newest output has failed to capture the public attention for some time. The classics will always be there; we'll always have The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Suspiria, Tenebrae, among others. But considering these films were made some thirty plus years ago is it then even plausible to expect the same artistic heights from an aging filmmaker well into his seventies? Sure, there are exceptions but how often does a director continuously deliver the goods year after year, decade after decade?

Part of what drives young artists early in their careers is the opportunity to break boundaries, shatter conventions and rival those who have dominated the public consciousness before them. Everything is new and ripe for the taking, thus an unbridled enthusiasm no doubt pulsates at the forefront of their creative imagination. Giallo is not a good film by any stretch of the word. In fact, it's not even a giallo - it only barley functions as a police procedural with some minor splashes of uber violence thrown in. But really what more should one expect from a clearly disinterested Argento who can now barely stage a believable dialogue scene, let alone transcend contemporary standards of cinematography and lighting design?

Frankly, it's quite difficult for me to even comment all that much on what actually takes place in Giallo, as there's honestly not a whole lot to reflect upon outside of the film's overwhelming lack of merit. The story is painfully dull and refuses to deviate from an immediately foreseeable conclusion. Brody and Seigner practically sleepwalk through their performances, so much so it would be surprising if their first takes weren't used in the final edit. No endeavor is made whatsoever to evoke any sense of style or atmosphere through use production design, camera movement, music, etc. In fact the film reflects the limitations of a low-rent telemovie far more than a feature production. To make matters worse, the film drudges up what is easily the most unimposing, embarrassingly awkward villain to ever wield a serrated implement in Italy's long cinematic history.

Yes, if you hadn't already gathered, Giallo is a film you'll wish were over well before the DVD counter clocks back to zero. Much like Do You Like Hitchcock?, The Card Player, Mother of Tears and even his two Masters of Horror installments, the beloved auteur's latest leaves a significantly disheartening taste in the mouth, making you yearn for the good old days when he was at his pulpy, violent best. Still, perhaps one should consider taking a reformed approach when looking at the work of a tiring filmmaker. Argento has nonetheless proven his incredible worth to film history and his best work stands as proof of that, even if his latest ventures may not live up to the memory of past triumphs.
Judging from the transfer and relatively shallow depth of field throughout the film, Giallo appears to have been shot with high definition cameras as apposed to Argento's previous 35mm efforts. While the picture is certainly crisp and sharp, the films' lack of contrasting colors, shadows or any real visual vibrancy make it not the most attractive canvas to oversee. With that said, there are no complaints to be had as far as technical proficiency of the disc concerned.
A Dolby 2.0 stereo track is provided. Nothing outstanding but a solid mix is assured.
Extra Features
The Verdict
Fans should always enjoy the work of their favorite filmmakers. The trick is to not take it to heart when they become more preoccupied with earning a paycheck than a director's guild award. Argento included.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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