The first time I saw Dario Argento’s Tenebrae I was very disappointed. I was hoping for another Suspiria, and I couldn’t get into the giallo thing at all. Seeing it again now (on a bigger and better TV and on DVD rather than VHS) I found a lot more to admire in the skill with which Argento sets up his visual set-pieces. I also have marginally more sympathy for the giallo genre, although I still have reservations about it. The absurdity of the plot no longer bothers me. I find I’m less and less interested in coherent linear plots anyway. The sexual ambiguities are interesting, especially the flashback scenes involving the woman on the beach, with the use of a transsexual actor to play the woman. As the movie progresses and the body count climbs and things gets bloodier and bloodier I found my interesting starting to wane. The ending just combines too many twists for my taste, and is just an excuse for a visually spectacular but entirely pointless death scene.
After Lamberto Bava’s lamentable Demons it’s like taking a quantum leap in film-making quality though. Argento’s technical mastery is nothing less than awe-inspiring. The giallo genre is something I continue to have mixed feelings about, and the amount of gore in this movie makes me uncomfortable. I much prefer Argento’s supernatural films.