Review: Giallo

Film review
Directed by Dario Argento
Starring Adrien Brody, Emmanuelle Seigner, Elsa Pataky
Release date 11 July 2011

Italian-American detective Enzo Avolfi (Brody) joins forces with flight attendant Linda (Seigner) to track down Linda’s missing model sister. Enzo fears that she’s been kidnapped by a serial killer known as “Yellow”…

Anyone hoping that Giallo might mark a return to form for Dario Argento after a string of sub-par efforts is likely to be disappointed. While it may be a step up from Mother of Tears, this return to the genre that made Argento famous is mostly a mostly a tired and predictable affair – though at least it’s ridiculous enough to generate a few guffaws.

The title (Italian for “yellow”) refers to both this type of Italian detective fiction (named after the yellow jackets of the original novels) and the jaundiced killer himself. It’s probably the cleverest thing about the film.

The plot is mainly a race-against-the-clock scenario, similar to the plodding The Card Player, with Enzo and Linda scampering around Rome, revealing clues about the killer’s identity. It turns out that the OTT, porn-loving psycho has an urge to destroy beautiful things – which manifests itself in the form of kidnapping and mutilating beautiful women. The Yellow killer is played by “Byron Deidra” – actually a pseudonym for a heavily disguised Brody. The fact Brody plays both cop and killer perhaps reflects Argento’s preoccupation with doubles, but Giallo lacks the psychological depth of Argento’s best pictures.

Brody seems to have developed a taste for genre movies in recent years (see also Splice and Predators), but his excitement at working with the Italian master of horror probably wore off once the producers failed to pay him in full (their legal wrangling has held back this 2009 movie for two years). His mumbly, pizza-scoffing detective is a truly ridiculous creation, prone to laughable outbursts (“He’s a killer. Can’t trust a word!”) and unbelievable heroics, and Brody stumbles through the film with an impressive selection of confused expressions. This being an Argento movie, he also comes with a traumatic background that gradually emerges through randomly inserted flashbacks.

Brody’s tour-de-silly performance, along with a couple of mildly tense kidnap sequences, means that Giallo isn’t boring, but it’s a long way from Argento’s horror heyday. James Skipp

VERDICT: 4/10
It pales in comparison to Tenebrae or Deep Red, but Giallo delivers a scattering of thrills, and Brody is ludicrously amusing as both cop and killer.

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