Runstedler’s DVD Pick of the Month: Tenebre

After being slightly disappointed with The Evil Dead remake, I dug into the vaults and decided to explore some of Italian director Dario Argento’s earlier work with the hopes of finding another great horror movie. In doing so, I ended up watching his 1982 film Tenebre. While Suspiria is usually revered as his best film (from a visual perspective, it certainly is), I think Tenebre is actually his best.

As is usually the case with an Argento film, the plot is delightfully batshit insane. The premise of Tenebre is that there’s a serial killer going around killing beautiful young women according to the way the characters die in a famous novelist’s book. The gore is gratuitous and satisfying, and many decades later the film still holds its shock value. The plot has some great twists and turns, even if it’s a bit nonsensical at times (a seemingly possessed Doberman literally chases one character across town, effortlessly bounding over tall fences and whatnot). The ending sequence is spectacular. My main complaint about his super early films like Deep Red is that the sequences in between the death scenes and pivotal scenes are pretty boring. That’s not the case with Tenebre. The acting isn’t great, but who cares. The storyline is pretty intricate and compelling, and I was consistently interested throughout the film. I also really liked the fact that the film featured women in strong, independent and equal roles without criticism or objectification. Many of the women in the film work alongside their male counterparts in equal roles. They’re all gorgeous too, which is a bonus. I recently watched Phenomena, which featured Jennifer Connelly’s first leading role. It was fascinating and awesome, but it doesn’t compare to the ingenious Tenebre. If you want a great arthouse horror movie with thrills and chills and much more, check out Tenebre. You won’t leave the room disappointed.

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