Inferno ★★½

Could somebody please check the pulse of this movie cause it barely even registers? Coming on the heels of the incredible vibrant beauty found in Dario Arento's earlier film Suspiria, Inferno can't help but feel like anything other than a massive misfire for the filmmaker; especially since it's a spiritual successor of sorts to that film. As the second installment of Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy, Inferno certainly has some mighty big shoes to fill but it never really comes close to recapturing the magic of its predecessor. Yes, the film retains some of Suspiria's trademark hyper-stylised lighting but gone is Goblin's iconic score, replaced by a tacky and highly dated soundtrack composed by Keith Emerson, of Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame. The film also lacks the same raw energy that helped propel Argento's work to a whole new level of greatness in Suspiria. It just sort of sits there and never really comes to life outside of a few fleeting moments here and there. And in case that weren't painful enough, the film substitutes the incredibly talented and beautiful Jessica Harper with a 2X4 on legs known as Leigh McCloskey. McCloskey' incredibly wooden performance in the film accurately foreshadows his future career path as a soap star.

Usually the one thing you can really count on in a Dario Argento film is an act of violence that will end up leaving a mark long after the end credits have finished rolling. Whether it's the knife plunging into the beating heart in Suspiria, or the razor blade attack at the hands of the chimpanzee in Phenomena, Argento likes to linger on the violence as long as possible in an (usually successful) attempt to get underneath your skin. Inferno has the rat scene of course which is quite hard to watch but the film doesn't offer a whole lot else that really lingers in your imagination. A really solid boost of adrenaline could've done the film a world of good. Perhaps if the film had been cast with actual actors instead of cardboard cutouts like McCloskey the film could've bounced a little more but as is it feels like Argento and cinematographer Romano Albani filmed the entire movie while shining a bunch of bright blue and purple spotlights onto chunks of cardboard doubling for actors. The only actor seemingly commited to the material was Argento's then wife, Daria Nicolodi, who some suspect helped Argento write the film without receiving so much as a credit. Whatever the case may be, Inferno could've used more of her presence before she's unceromoniously disposed of by a ruthless gang of bloodthirsty cats.