Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Film Review: The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)

The Stendhal Syndrome (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Video
Netflix Instant: No
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"It's not Argento's best work, but it certainly does not taint his filmography."

A young policewoman begins questioning her sanity while tracking an elusive serial rapist-killer through Italy...

The Stendhal Syndrome is an interesting film. The plot follows detective Anna Manni (Asia Argento), who travels to Florence in search of an elusive serial rapist-killer. She picks up his trail at a museum. However, while viewing the art, she begins to hallucinate, then she faints. She briefly loses her memory and returns to her hotel, disoriented. Then, she's raped by the man she was sent to track. Unlike some of his other victims, she's spared, which leads her to believe her nightmare is not over. Slowly but surely, Anna begins to lose her mind and she becomes obsessed with her attacker. The plot shifts during the second half, where it becomes a bit slower, but it's otherwise an interesting story. It leads to a good ending, too.

The Stendhal Syndrome is a great film. The plot is very interesting. Instead of focusing on a generic haunted house or a by-the-books serial killer, The Stendhal Syndrome offers an original plot with a cast of interesting characters. I suppose it can be categorized as a slasher, but I think it's much more than that. No, this is more like a psychological horror movie with a pinch of surrealism. Unfortunately, most of the surreal visuals are abandoned during the second half. As a matter of fact, the film as a whole becomes a bit more generic during the second half. That's not to say it's bad, but it definitely feels safer—less risky. There's also a bit of filler in here that makes the film feel longer than its actual runtime.

I actually ended up watching a dub of this film. I usually hate dubs, but this one wasn't horrible. In terms of acting, Asia Argento didn't seem terrible. The supporting cast was good, too. The film was shot well. The music was also great. This film uses some computer effects during the death scenes. The effects probably looked like a good idea at the time, but they're not great now. The film was written and directed by Dario Argento. Although not as stylish or impactful as his classics, Argento performs well as writer and director. The plot could have used some fine-tuning, but he's created yet another piece of interesting horror cinema.

Overall, The Stendhal Syndrome is a very good horror movie. If you're looking for something that breaks the typical horror formula, this is for you. It's not Argento's best work, but it certainly does not taint his filmography. Check it out.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some sex and nudity.

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