Just to clarify things before we get to the meat and bones of this review. Dario Argento is my favourite film director. Suspiria is probably my all-time favourite horror movie, and Deep Red is probably the greatest giallo ever made.
I'm a huge fan of Inferno, the semi-sequel to Suspiria. It doesn't make a lick of sense, but it's a truly beautiful and strange piece of cinema, and is a film that I have never tired of watching over the last twenty-odd years.
When the third part of the trilogy was announced I was skeptical. We'd heard the same thing time and time again, and the film had never materialised. I was also a bit worried because Argento hasn't made a truly great film since Trauma, and some of his more recent output (Phantom of The Opera, Do You like Hitchcock, and his two episodes of the Master of Horror series, Jennifer and Pelts), while not without some merit at times, were all pale shadows of his previous works.
So it was with both anticipation and trepidation that I settled down to watch Mother of Tears.
At the end of the film I was stunned and shocked. Could this really be the work of the man who directed Suspiria? It reminded me more of the execrable The Black Cat, a weird "homage" to Suspiria directed by the guy who works the counter at Rome's Deep Red store (Luigi Cozzi), than anything that Argento had previously directed.
The film truly stinks to high heaven, and just about the only thing I liked about it was the rousing Simonetti score, which itself is pretty derivative but still reeks of quality compared to the onscreen shenanigans that are on display in the film. I'm going to take the unusual step of not revealing too much about the actual story- it's probably best for you to come to it with fresh eyes and make your own minds up about it.
I will instead comment on a few things that struck me.
Asia can't act: We all know this but she is now looking a bit rough around the edges and her character is completely unsympathetic throughout the film.
The resurrected Third Mother: Not only has she been lying dormant for a number of years but she has also found the time to have a boob job!
Daria Nicolodi: It's such a shame that over the years she has suffered so many addictions and looks the way she does, but her appearance in this film is absolutely the worst thing in any of Argento's films-she is a ghost in this one, and keeps appearing once in a while to get Asia out of whatever sticky situation she has become embroiled in. She appears in human form in a white outfit, all the while glowing and floating around like a spooky version of Alec Guiness at the end of Return of the Jedi, and she appears to believe she is acting in a silent movie rather than something we have been waiting decades to see on the big screen.
Asia's witchy powers: She can wish herself invisible to avoid detection by the police. I'm not even going to explain this one, but magic powers were displayed more convincingly in the 60's TV show Bewitched, and Asia comes across as a poor imitation of that shows Samantha....
The Third Mothers henchmen/women: If I was plotting to destroy the world I'm not sure I would choose the following as my sidekicks - a bald murderer who leers incessantly at the camera; a monkey (a pale shadow of the marvelous straight-razor wielding Inga from the masterly Phenomena), and, worst of all, a gaggle of Goth style witches who are so OTT that I thought I was watching a Duran Duran video from the 80s.
CGI: I'm not the biggest fan of CGI, but I accept that there are some occasions when it has to be used. I'm not certain, however, that if you decide to go down the CGI route for your film that you should hand the task over to your local Primary School's Media Studies Department and let them have a bash at it as part of their coursework. Just check out the last scene for an unbelievable example of what I'm trying to get at here.
Murder set pieces: The first double murder scene in Suspiria is one of the most perfectly realised and shocking scenes in the whole of the horror genre. The deaths in this one are all rather uninspired, and in some cases even a bit grubby and embarrassing. The death of the only sympathetic character in the entire film is a case in point.
I could go on and on about this one, but to be honest I've no further desire to prolong the experience, so Im going to leave it up to you all to track this one down and let us know via the forums what you think of it.