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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

October 7, 2008
RATING: 6.5/10
Acclaimed film director Dario Argento, renown for his work in the giallo genre of his native Italy, is something of an acquired taste. Sure, you may be aware that his 1977 film, Suspiria, is universally recognized as a classic of the genre. But did you actually enjoy it when you saw it? Did you truly get beyond its kitsch, cheesy gore, and psycho-sexual shock value and think to yourself, That movie fucking ruled? Probably not. Even so, Argento is considered a master within his genre, and with Mother of Tears - the third film in his "Three Mothers" trilogy, following the aforementioned Suspiria and Inferno - has returned to the foreign/B-movie circuit with the force of a cheesy, frivolous, damn good occult thriller. In this installment, the setting is updated to modern-day Rome, the film stock is brighter, the gore is more visceral, and Asia Argento, his daughter, stars.



Asia plays Sarah, an art student who opens a can of supernatural whoop-ass when she and a colleague decide to snoop around in an urn found in the graveyard of a church. Their meddling immediately unleashes a bunch of demons, who brutally and tortuously slaughter the colleague. Argento must be perversely commended for allowing this kill to drag on; her friend first has a shaft jammed in her mouth, then is disemboweled and wrapped in her own entrails. The scene is far more graphic than anything from real life, of course, but we shouldn't kid ourselves as to why we watch horror movies in the first place. As Dario Argento clearly understands, it is satisfying to get a little more carnage out of the money moment.

From that point on, the plot wavers between The Exorcist 2, Temple of Doom, The Da Vinci Code, and Rosemary's Baby. As a wave of violence and murder (including women dropping their babies off the sides of bridges) sweeps the city, Sarah discovers that she not only has magical powers, but that her family has a historical dark side steeped in mystery and the occult. Along the way, we get plenty of blood and plenty of totally ludicrous, laugh-out-loud but still enjoyable moments.



Asia Argento has carved out a niche for herself in B-movies and indie fare (Gus Van Sant's Last Days and Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette), and while I doubt her career trajectory will at any point intersect with an Academy Award nomination, she does right by this scintillating material. There's a brief moment of ick when she showers and her father's camera lovingly caresses her breasts from above… but hey, they're Italian. They do things a little differently on the boot-shaped peninsula, right? The younger Argento is at the plot's center, while Udo Kier has a smaller role as a priest and the rest of the cast is made up of unknown actors who all seem to be having a blast with their often-doltish lines.

This unrated edition DVD features various bonus materials, including a "Making Of" documentary and a conversation with Argento.

TRAILER: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z2FolPbu2s

SEE ALSO: www.motheroftearsthemovie.com
SEE ALSO: www.darkdreams.org

--
Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other articles by Jonah Flicker.

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