No suspense, victims you didn’t care about, and extended torture sequences.
The only real horror in the evening was the 17 bucks a New York theater charged for a Halloween weekend screening a few years back.
From my point of view, suggested horror is always more effective than any graphic display — remember the nighttime shark attack in the opening scene of “Jaws”?
I have a very short list of movies that have truly frightened me — near the top is the 1973 Nicolas Roeg ghost story, “Don’t Look Now,” starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. With few venturing out on this post-Sandy Halloween, the Roeg film is perfect for home viewing tonight.
If you’re a fan of the occult and have never seen it, the film should go to the top of your Netflix or download list. (The film is currently out of print on DVD, but available from Amazon for instant rental).
The British Film Institute includes “Don’t Look Now” in its “BFI Modern Classics” series of concise books devoted to re-examining films that have grown in stature over the years.
Author Mark Sanderson doesn’t exaggerate much when he writes about the picture’s “horrific, heart-stopping climax.” Many movie scenes go right out of your head a few hours after you leave the theater, but, believe me, you won’t soon forget the closing moments of Roeg’s film.
What’s so marvelous about the movie is that even after you know how the story ends, “Don’t Look Now” rewards repeat viewing because it is so visually dense that it’s hard to absorb all of the clues Roeg puts on the screen long before the finale.
Based on a Daphne du Maurier short story, the movie follows a British couple played by Sutherland and Christie who lose their daughter in a drowning accident at the beginning of the film. After the funeral, the couple travels to Venice — in the off-season — where Sutherland has been hired to restore the frescoes in a historic church.
Sutherland keeps having daydreams or visions that he can’t quite fathom. Christie believes these are messages from their daughter on “the other side” warning of danger, but the husband dismisses the notion as grief-related hysteria.
While the couple wanders around a creepily deserted Venice, the police are looking for a serial killer of young women.
What makes the picture powerful and horrifying is that we are drawn so close to the protagonists that we care deeply about their fate. The result is that rare horror movie with real dramatic depth and for which the adjective “haunting” is totally apt.