Don't Look Now (1971)
Every so often, you see a film which really scares you whilst you're watching it - either like this: "Whoah! Holy shit - did you see that?", or like this: "Are you sure we locked the back door? Just check behind the sofa for me again, will you?".
But it's rare that a film has both these effects on the viewer. It's even rarer for the viewer to wake up sweaty-palmed in bed two nights later, because he can't get certain scenes out of his head (hands up, me).
Don't Look Now is one of those films. It succeeds on all three levels and must rank as one of the scariest, and most original, horror films ever made.
To even give a rough outline of the plot, or indeed to show too many photos, would effectively ruin it for the unwary viewer. One thing to keep in mind is that pretty much every synopsis gets it wrong, and I'd advise anyone wanting to enjoy the film "cold" not to read too much about it beforehand. Except this review - I promise not to give anything away.
Everyone knows what happens at the beginning - Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are enjoying their pleasant middle class existence in an early 70s kind of way (all brown corduroy and bri-nylon) when their daughter (talking Action Man in hand) turns up her toes in a nearby pond.
Months later, the still-grieving couple go on a working holiday to Venice, where Christie hears from an odd woman claiming to be a clairvoyant that her daughter is still nearby.
That's all you need. Now watch the film.
What astonishes is the way that not only does the film have a remarkable sense of impending doom and deep tragedy, but that it also uses several cinematic tricks. Yet it's not an "Oh, aren't we clever?" kind of 70s Sixth Sense. Even the ordinary punters (that's you and me) can tell that the use of red in this film is very important indeed. Scenes are intercut with one another in a way which makes perfect sense as the story reaches its end. And if that ending doesn't make you shriek "whoah!", check behind the sofa, and have you waking up in tears later that night, then there's something wrong with you...
Last updated: February 22, 2010
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