Prelude to /slash #4: Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)

Profondo Rosso (Deep Red))Profondo Rosso
Italy 1975
Written by Dario Argento & Bernardino Zapponi
Directed by Dario Argento

Maybe it was my heightened expectations after “Suspiria”, but I wasn’t that taken with “Profondo Rosso”. It’s a decent movie and I enjoyed watching it, but it didn’t blow me away. I’m also not quite sure if I would call it horror. Yes, it starts out creepy enough, and the first kill is brutal and memorable, but afterwards, it’s more of a murder mystery with thriller elements than a straight-out horror movie. Which isn’t bad per se (I love murder mysteries!), but for me, it was a little too mellow and light, and – apart from a couple of great sequences – not quite gripping and tense enough.

One thing that I defintely have to hold in it’s favor: When it comes to the identity of the killer, Argento really managed to trick me. I completely fell for a red herring, and expected a certain twist, looking for clues and checking if every new reveal still supported my theory – and scratching my head if they didn’t, and trying to find ways to still make it work, since I was so sure that I knew where this was heading. Unfortunately, as “movie logic” as my reveal admittedly would have been, I think I would have preferred it to the one that “Profondo Rosso” ultimately offered. There are actually two reveals, and I couldn’t get behind the first one, since it didn’t make any sense. The reason for that is resolved with the second reveal, which again I didn’t see coming, but unfortunately, I found the shot that revealed the killer to be unintentionally (?) funny, and not frightening. Something about this scene just didn’t work for me. Also, both reveals leave the question unanswered how the killer always knew exactly what Marcus Daly was up to, and managed to follow in his footsteps. And, above all, the reveal(s) didn’t manage to shock me at all. They were more of the shrug-variety.

I loved the first 10-15 minuten, however. Yes, the psychic-stuff was a little weird, but actually, the first sequence made me think a lot of “Halloween”. The holiday season-setting (christmas instead of halloween), the knife, the child, the children’s song (which is put to great, creepy use during the rest of the movie)… I can easily see “Profondo Rosso” being a slight influence for John Carpenter. After the murder, the two sequences that stood out for me were the second killing (I especially loved everything about the steam), and Marcus Daly exploring the mansion. I also loved the feministic undertones, and the banter between Marcus and Gianna was nice. On the other hand, I think that with over 120 minutes, it’s a little too long. It’s also not even remotely as visually stunning as “Suspiria”, even though there are a couple of nice shots here and there. And I’m not sure I completely got why Marcus felt the need to investigate the murder himself. Still, it’s a a nice little movie overall – but one that I don’t feel the need to revisit anytime soon.


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