Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Phenomena - Review - @BrandonCSites

Phenomena (1985) ***
D: Dario Argento
C: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Patrick Bauchau, Fiore Argento

Plot Synopsis: An American (Jennifer Connelly) at a Swiss finishing school calls on insects to help a paralyzed scientist (Donald Pleasence) fight a monster.

Please Note: This review applies to the 82 minute version released under the title of CREEPERS.

Review: The premise, involving a young girl who uses her ability to communicate with insects to solve a series of murders, is a thin one. They play up to an obvious point of how insects aren't necessarily something we should fear, but that they're a part of life that's meant to help us out. Outside of that, this is really a showcase for the various players involved with this production.

This is a rare case of where a weak story is overcome by technically proficiency. The cinematography is striking. The color palates are eye catching. The lightening is ethereal when needed and dark & brooding when necessary, highlighting the duality of good & evil. The score is electrifying, so electrifying, that it could stand on its own as a solid piece of entertainment. The special effects are arresting. The horror set pieces are memorably grotesque. Daria Nicolodi goes for the gusto in a go for broke performance. All of these elements come together due to effective staging. In terms of visual presentation, this is a masterfully done film.

However, if you're looking for pesky details such as character development, logic, reasoning or anything resembling depth, look elsewhere, because it isn't here. That's why the 82 minute version is preferential. It's able to skip the nearly non-existent story and get right to the good stuff. The 110 minute version gives us bits of dialogue that don't add up to much, minor character observations that don't contribute anything to the plot. There's some additional gore, but nothing notable that warrants having to sit through an additional 28 minutes of useless exposition.

Simply put, the 110 minute version is flat out boring, because it drags things out. The 82 minute version is more concise, more focused and delivers a thrilling horror experience, albeit, an experience that doesn't require much perceptive thought, but a thrilling experience none the less. [R] 82 minutes.

AKA: Creepers

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