Inferno, directed by Dario Argento was ranked among the 1000 Greatest Films of All Time according to They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? (It has since fallen off from the most recent update.) I made the following video as part of my blog project Shooting Down Pictures.
For my own blog entry, I wrote the following:
I confess that I haven’t been a fan of Argento movies, as evidenced by my reaction to Suspiria (TSPDT #506): “I felt the movie trying to willfully box me into a state of terror with its relentless migraine-inducing music, oversaturated lighting schemes and gross-out impalement effects.” In Inferno, Argento’s garish shock and awe methods are still present, but taken to such an extreme that the elaborate duochrome lighting schemes and overwrought scenarios for deaths and dismemberments do less to shock than to present themselves as objets d’art.
The story of three youths who try to untangle the ancient mystery of three diabolical sisters, one of whom is possibly hiding out in a New York apartment building is told in such an elliptical manner that it seems pointless to critique the storytelling. Similarly the characters are so underdeveloped that one must assume it is by design. Shifting from one generic protagonist-victim to the next with little emotion invested in any of them, the detached aura of the proceedings suggest that Argento is striving for an abstract essence to the horror aesthetic. He does this by eschewing the conventional satisfactions of credible storytelling or empathetic characters in favor of grandiose set pieces and the lurid fascinations of red and blue lights bathing female bodies as they wander forlornly through shadowy spaces.
While it doesn’t achieve the pure horror abstraction of say, a Peter Tscherkassky film, it’s best moments suggest an approach to horror filmmaking that elicits aesthetic contemplation as much as impulsive reaction.