Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Mother of Tears

Dario Argento | 2007 | 98 min | Italy/USA

Argento's output over the last decade or so has been fairly disappointing, but this was supposedly a return to form. Classic Argento style horror that horror fans around the world love him for. You can believe the hype. The Mother of Tears has all of the Argento staples; a ton of moving camera, a great score (more on that in a second), a damsel in distress, a detective, a peppering of wooden performances, way too much expository dialogue, and of course, gory gory death sequences.

An urn is dug up, containing three demon idols, a sacred dagger, and a shirt with some ancient writing embroidered onto it. Delivered to a museum in Rome where Asia Argento and her boss/boyfriend (or at least bed fellow) work, a co-worker reads the writing on the idols and in the process, awakens the demons, a screaming monkey, and the Mother of Tears (the third and final witch/mother in Argento's world, who was preceded by Mother Susperia and Mother Tenebre).

Back to life, the Mother of Tears spreads her evil over Rome, transforming women into witches who kill their children, men into brutal murderers, and in general, just fucking Rome's shit up.

What follows is Asia's journey, in which she discovers she has a mystical lineage which gives her the power needed to fight the witches, demons, and ultimately the Mother of Tears.

The horror in Mother of Tears is similar to his classics like Opera, but is amped up way past what he's done in the past. The gore knows no bounds. Whatever sick stuff Argento and his co-writers came up with, his effects team have executed perfectly. These are some of his best death scenes to date. Another thing which is different from the past is that the score, while still very present, isn't as bombastic as it usually is, taking a back seat to slow building tension which allows for more shocking scares and a frequent sense of dread. Repeated chants of "Mother" make the Mother of Tears very present in scenes, even though she's not.

With scenes involving a magic powder puff and Asia Argento crying for her "mommy", The Mother of Tears is far from perfect, but it's a great Dario Argento film, and one of the scariest and satisfying horror films of the last five or more years. Welcome back, Dario.

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