Saturday, February 7, 2015

Inferno (Dario Argento, 1980) - 35th Anniversary Retrospective

Like last week, this Saturday sees another Argento film celebrating its birthday. Released in Italy 35 years ago today, Inferno is one of the director's more challenging works and perhaps something of an acquired taste. I've always liked it myself but it's only in the last year or so that it's started to rival Phenomena (see previous post) as my favourite of Dario's. It's somewhat tougher to articulate what it is that's great about the former than the latter and it's also harder to recommend to a general audience. Nonetheless, I'll attempt to give the uninitiated (an apt word considering what the film concerns) a sense of what the movie is about and hopefully help them decide whether or not to make the descent into what is arguably the most mysterious and defiantly dreamlike film in Argento's canon.

As Inferno is so purely cinematic and seemingly almost anti-narrative, it's only necessary to very briefly sketch out the story. A follow up to the now classic Suspiria, this film is also essentially a fairy tale. But where its predecessor was intended (in Argento's words) as for children (how young I'm not sure, given some of its ultra-violent content), this time the target audience is an adult one. To me none of this really helps much in giving an idea as to what Inferno is about but it's a start. But what of the plot, I hear you ask! Thanks for the reminder, I'll attempt a synopsis of sorts...

The middle part of Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy (more on that later), the film follows a brother (Leigh McCloskey) and sister (Irene Miracle) attempting to unravel the mysteries surrounding said trinity and a sinister, downright strange New York apartment building inhabited by the latter. When she disappears, he flies over from Rome (where he's studying music) to investigate.