Another day, another Dario Argento film.
This week, I sat down to watch Opera, a 1987 horror/thriller about a young woman, in the lead role of a production of Macbeth, being stalked by someone who literally forces her to watch her friends and close ones get murdered.
Now seeing that I’ve watched quite a few Argento films in the past (Deep Red, Inferno, Wax Mask, Suspiria, etc) he definitely has a particular way of approaching color schemes, camera angles and movements and an overall grandness surrounding his work. Opera is no different but I enjoyed it for multitude of reasons.
As I just mentioned, there is this grandness surrounding the movie. From the opera house which is stunning, looks like maybe some Renaissance or Baroque inspiration. It’s big lights and gold and red trim to our lead character’s home which is quite a fancy little apartment and other than being an understudy (who then gets the main role), I wonder how she can afford that apartment unless I missed out on something.
The camera movements caught my eye this time around. I think, because of the setting being in an opera house, a theatre, and the kills themselves have to be dramatic and the camera work, the cinematography, was really cool. There is this one moment I’m thinking of where another character, the costumer, is being attacked and while our lead is tied up, forced to watch behind a glass case, there’s wind blowing, multiple fabric rolls are sweeping around, the camera is moving further and further away creating this effect of dimension.
The kills were quite impactful. A nice surprise was seeing Daria Nicolodi (Argento’s partner at the time and mother to his daughter Asia) in the film as a blonde but then she got killed which never really happened in the other films I’ve seen her in with Argento. That was new, threw me off guard a bit. The best kill, in my opinion, is the costume designer.
Sweeping angles, colorful, some kills were great, the acting is okay, I mean they are dubbed but when it comes to terror, they deliver.
There is one more thing I want to mention: the occuring “eye”. These closeups of the crows’ eyes, our lead Betty, being forced to watch these murders by having her eyes temporarily opened by needles, the eyes are shocked opened in death. It’s the gaze, the point of view we’re being fed as a viewer. And it completes a plot circle of… using crows who were once mutilated by the killer to then the killer being sought out and attacked by the same animal in retaliation.
The film has deeper connections that require a watch and without giving too much away about who the killer is or how Betty defeats him, who lives and dies, who are the red herrings, what is the big secret within the movie.
Opera is directed by Dario Argento and stars Christina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, William McNamara and Daria Nicolodi.
It gets 3.5 out of 5 stars.