NNWIJ: Deep Red (1975)

Director: Dario Argento

Notable Cast:  David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia

Rating: R

Review:  Ok, I know I’m about to commit horror fan blasphemy, but after watching Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the word “underwhelmed” rolled off my tongue.  I know, I know, Argento was a huge influence on the genre and a classical genius, but I was expecting so much more.  Be it outdated effects, shoddy audio quality, and general lacking in intensity, I wasn’t hooked.  But when my favorite horror website Bloody Disgusting released a list of movies that every horror fan has to see, you’re damned right I made it my mission to check off every single one, because I scored embarrassingly low for a cinema fan who brags the horror genre as his most knowledgable.  I realized my shortcomings existed in old school horror though, and with Deep Red right on my Netflix Watch Instantly menu, I decided to revisit Argento’s work and start my horrific journey.  It’s a good thing too, because Deep Red gave Argento new life in my eyes, peaking my interest and readying me to power through his entire collection.

Telling the story of a psychic who is murdered after a public appearance and the simple pianist (Hemmings) who gets caught up in the investigation after witnessing her murder, our amateur detective soon fears for his own life as his leads start being axed off one by one.  It’s a taught thriller full on ingenuity based on such a random scenario, but Argento’s story still remains relevant in today’s horror world, something lost on Suspiria I believe.

What transpires is a culmination of numerous brilliant parts – from fantastic horror acting by Hemmings and Lavia (amongst others), a far superior soundtrack provided by frequent collaboratoring musical group The Goblins, a ghastly brutal account of raw attacks carried out by the killer, and a challenging story thought up by Argento which makes the most of intricate details.  Hemmings’ character could have been an everyday Joe who just witnessed a murder, but Argento’s care in each personality builds a vibrant life around each one, giving the film a unique flame.  As for the gore, I like to think I have a pretty serious tolerance after indulging in films like Saw and Hostel, but Argento actually had me cringing at how gritty and maliciously violent any horror encounter turned out.  Mix that with Argento’s masterful use of tension squeezing set ups which have us holding our breath, and you’ve got one special horror watch.  We’re thirty plus years from Deep Red‘s release, yet new horror directors still fail to achieve proper tones which are required to truly spookify the audience, something Argento did with minimal special effects realism and vastly inferior technology.

Deep Red: An oldie, but a goodie!

Netflix Rating: 4/5

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About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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