Sunday, October 13, 2013

Phenomena (1985)

Director: Dario Argento

Writers: Dario Argento, Franco Ferrini

Composers: Simon Boswell, Goblin

Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi, Fiore Argento, Federica Mastroianni, Fiorenza Tessari, Dalia Di Lazzaro, Patrick Bauchau

More info: IMDb

Tagline: When Insects Attack!

Plot: In Switzerland, the teenager Jennifer Corvino, daughter of a famous actor, arrives in an expensive board school and shares her room with the French schoolmate Sophie. Jennifer is a sleepwalker, is capable of telepathically communicate with insects and has adaptation problem in the new school. While sleepwalking, she meets and becomes friend of a Scottish entomologist, Prof. John McGregor, and his chimpanzee Tonga. Jennifer decides to help the investigation of Dr. McGregor about a serial killer that is killing young girls in that area. When her friend Sophie disappears and Dr. McGregor is killed, the scared Jennifer decides to call her lawyer and return to Los Angeles. She is invited to stay in the house of Frau Br├╝ckner waiting for her flight, but the serial killer is already chasing her.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

Call me surprised.  I didn't think Argento had anything worth watching past the 1970s and this completely catches me off guard.  If you can suspend your disbelief that a teenage girl can psychically communicate with bugs then you'll believe everything else Argento throws at you. Connelly does a fine job but for my money it's having the wonderful Donald Pleasence in the picture that seals the deal.  There isn't an awful lot of horror action for the first half of the picture but it moves along at a nice clip and it didn't lose my interest at all.  One thing that makes Argento stand out in the film world is he often has the music score go far beyond what's happening on screen.  There's a great scene where Jennifer is simply walking in a trans-like state (with a lightning bug in her hand that's silently leading her) through the woods on the grounds of this big, old house.  The music is pounding (great score btw) and it's got this sense of impending doom but in a big way.  When she gets to her destination, nothing happens and we're on to the next scene.  In a way it's laughable but it works. The location shooting is beautiful and adds to the enjoyment of the picture. If there's one thing I learned, don't give a chimpanzee sharp objects.

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