FrightFest 2009: Giallo review

Dario Argento chose not to travel to London to introduce his new film Giallo . It's not hard to see why.

Produced by and starring Adrien Brody, it sees an ugly serial killer (Brody in heavy make-up - think Rocky Balboa with a liver disease and a huge rubber honker) stalk beautiful women to, er, make them ugly. He does this by securing them in his basement and going at them with various nasty implements.

Perhaps he's been watching too much toture porn?

On the killer's trail is the sister (Emmanuelle Seigner) of a fashion model who's gone missing and an eccentric cop (Brody again) who says, po-faced, 'I don't do things by the book'.

This being Argento, twilight years or no, there are a couple of stylishly put together sequences and two or three moments of wince-inducing gore - a shot of hands sliding down a line of shattered glass shards recalls the infamous smoking-hands-down-cable shot in Cat 'O Nine Tails .

Otherwise, this shocker is shockingly bad - so bad it's actually raucous good fun. The hilariously dud script gives Brody all the worst lines and the actor generously returns the compliment by delivering them amid a tornado of Method-y tics and twitches, like King Lear with a power drill in his ear.

It's a performance that goes beyond bad into the realms of all-time worst, and it's hard to fathom from a former Oscar winner.

Thankfully, we'll always have Argento's many great films from the late '60s to early '80s to cherish, and so shall he. But Argento's decline perhaps even exceeds that of Carpenter, and it's a distressing thing to witness.

'I'll be running AA - Argento Anonymous - in the foyer after you've seen the film,' FrightFest honcho Alan Jones warned the crowd before the screening. 'Trust me, you're going to need the therapy.' He wasn't wrong.

Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.