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Friday, March 30, 2012

Don't Look Now

     Horror can come in two different kinds of movies- ones that rely simply on cheap scares to make you jump every five minutes, or ones that take a more subtle and serious approach.  Films that linger, work their way into your brain.  Disturb you.  "Don't Look Now" is one of those films.  It's utterly chilling and disturbing, and will haunt you afterwards.

     Here's the story.  Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are happily married with two children and living in England.  Their youngest daughter drowns, and naturally shattered, go to Venice to grieve her death.  During their stay, a rash of strange murders hit the city as body after body is hauled out of the canals.  Then the couple meet a pair of elderly sisters, one of whom is a psychic.  She insists that she knows of their daughter, and that she's happy.  On top of all this, a mysterious figure in a red coat is spotted around Venice.  And guess what?  Their daughter just happened to be wearing a red coat when she drowned.  How does this all connect?  That is the brilliance of "Don't Look Now".  It's a frustrating, haunting, jarring, and thought-provoking little movie.  And extremely effective.

     Released the same time as "The Exorcist" in 1973, "Don't Look Now" is often overlooked and unheard of.  Obviously, "The Exorcist" made a bigger impact.  But it's a truly mind-bending and chilling shocker that was honestly way ahead of its time.  It's wonderfully intriguing and maddening- and the stunning Venice locations and photography truly give the film an other-wordly, almost dream-like feel.  It's almost hard to describe this movie.  Those of you expecting one of those neat, tidy endings that wrap up all loose endings will be thoroughly disappointed.  What you get from watching this movie is entirely up to you, as much of it is open to interpretation.  Think Dario Argento mixed with David Lynch.

     Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie give first-rate performances here, the direction by Nicholas Roeg is top notch, and the film positively drips with symbolism. Normal, ordinary things suddenly become nightmarish and sinister in "Don't Look Now".  It's truly original, with lots of creepy music and moody, hallucinatory cinematography.  Some horror fans hate this movie, as it made them angry.  Like I said, your interpretation is up to you, and some simply can't think for themselves- they need Michael Bay to spell it out for them.  But if you can just go with it and open your mind, you might enjoy it.  I did very much.  It truly creeped me out. Oh and out of nowhere comes a shocking and unbelievable sex scene between Donald and Julie, and the Sutherland rocks some truly righteous hair in this movie.

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