(Sotto Gli Occhi DellAssassino)
Expectedly, Tenebrae is filled with Dario Argentos customarily wildly over-the-top, artistically pretentious sadistic set-pieces. In the opening scenes, a woman is caught shoplifting, is allowed to go home after she comes onto the store detective, whereupon she has her throat slit as the killer turns up inside her house, he stuffing the pages he tears from the book into her mouth. In another scene, Argento conducts a single 360o pan up the walls, over the roof and down the side of a house, watching the women inside undressing and then focuses in on one victim, the camera looking up through her dress as she pulls it over her head and the killers knife suddenly comes at her. In one uncomfortably nasty scene, a girl is pursued and savagely mauled by a dog and manages to hide inside a house, only to find it is the killers house.
The most captivating scene is the opening, with the credits run over by a narration from the book as it is torn up and fed into a fire The impulse had become irresistible. There was only one answer to the fury that tortured him. And so he committed his first act of murder. He had broken the most deep-rooted taboo and found not anxiety, not fear, but freedom. Every humiliation which stood in his way could be swept aside by the simple act of annihilation murder. Nothing else in Tenebrae ever matches such a fervid sense of disturbed psychology.
As always, with any Dario Argento film, Tenebrae is written around each set-piece, and trying to make logical sense of the plot and the contrivances required of it is like following a ball of wool after it has been unravelled by a kitten, particularly the end double revelation of multiple killers. This is either something accepts or rejects as part and parcel of any Dario Argento film and as such Tenebrae is enjoyable enough on its own terms.
There is also a serious side to Tenebrae. The film was inspired by Argentos real-life harassment by a fan stalker. It also sees Argento standing up to respond to many of his numerous critics of the violence in his films. There is one scene at a press conference where he has Anthony Franciosa respond to a woman reporter who is determined to press feminist issues If someone is killed with a Smith and Wesson revolver, do you go to see the president of Smith-and-Wesson?
Dario Argentos other films are: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Cat ONine Tails (1971), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971), Deep Red (1976), Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980), Phenomena/Creepers (1985), Opera/Terror at the Opera (1987), Two Evil Eyes (1990), Trauma (1993), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), The Phantom of the Opera (1998), Sleepless (2001), The Card Player (2004), Mother of Tears: The Third Mother (2007), Giallo (2009) and Dracula (2012).