Although we devoted the first few installments of our giallo spotlight series on classics from Italy's “Big Three” horror directors – Mario Bava, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci – today we're going to jump ahead to the 21st century to examine a loving homage to Italian thrillers created by French filmmaking team Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, whose you may also know thanks to their shocking segment "O is for Orgasm" in the horror anthology The ABCs of Death. Amer (“Bitter”) their first feature-length collaboration, was released in 2009 to international acclaim and multiple awards, and many giallo fans now say it's the type of film they wished Dario Argento was still making today.
The plot – what there is of it – is divided into three acts, each representing a significant event in the life of the main character Ana, who is played by three different actresses. The first involves the birth of Ana's childhood fears during an incident in an eerie mansion on the French Riviera, where she is stalked by a faceless figure; the second examines Ana's sexual awakening in an encounter with a biker gang; and the final segment finds adult Ana back at the creepy mansion to confront the black-clad stranger once again.
The loose story here serves mainly as a framework for the duo's stunning direction and cinematography, soaked in primary colors – a technique mastered by Bava – with widescreen compositions and extreme closeups familiar to fans of Argento and Fulci. In addition to those standard-bearers of giallo cinema, Amer owes a creative debt to the experimental art-house horrors of the '70s and '80s, most notably Andrej Zulawski's stream-of-consciousness epic Possession, and to the works of David Lynch. The music is pure vintage giallo as well, riffing on themes by Ennio Morricone (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) and Stelvio Cipriani (What Have They Done to Your Daughters?).
Amer is available on DVD and Blu-ray, and with its gorgeous colors and widescreen compositions, this film is best experienced in HD (unless you're lucky enough to find a theatrical screening). However, the only Blu on the market is an import from Anchor Bay UK; hopefully it will surface in the US soon. You can still see the same duo at work in ABCs of Death online via iTunes and Amazon VOD, and it's also headed to DVD soon. Looking forward: the filmmakers are now at work on their second film The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears, and have uploaded the amazing still image below to the film's official Facebook page. Apparently this film will offer two (or more?) black-gloved killers for the price of one...