Monday, November 23, 2009

Until Death

Until Death 1987
Director: Lamberto Bava
Writers: Lamberto Bava and Dardano Sacchetti
Starring Gioia Scola, David Brandon, Giuseppe De Sando, Roberto Pedicini, Marco Vivio and Urbano Barberini

Lamberto Bava is one of my favorite of the Italian horror directors, not on the level of his father Mario, but very good nonetheless. My personal favorite of his is Demons. So, when I caught a look at this one over at Netflix, I grabbed it up pretty quickly. It was nothing amazing but still an entertaining film nonetheless. It was a combination of a Hitchcockian suspense film with a supernatural twist at the end. It kept that twist under wraps till the very end, for the most part you think the film is following the general rules of a suspense film until the final act comes along and reverses everything. IT has a steady and brisk pace that carries the viewer along for the ride and also makes you care for what will happen to most of the characters. Bava sets up the dilemma well in the beginning and ratchets up the tension with each scene till the tension becomes so heavy that you know something is going to break under the weight of all this anticipation. Bava balances all these ingredients well and it forms into a nice potboiler of a film.
The plot basics are this, Linda (Scola) has killed her husband with the aid of her lover, Carlo (Brandon) buries the body and hides this nefarious deed from all. Linda is pregnant with her son and much time passes, six years in fact and everything seems to be going well until a drifter (Barberini) appears at their doorstep. This drifter becomes helpful but soon Linda begins to fear that he knows something and is trying to bring back the old nightmares of disposing of her husband. This causes a rift between her and Carlo and things begin to turn violent between them. It soon seems that the drifter is not who he appears and the justice that has long eluded Linda and Carlo is coming for its comeuppance and not even death will stop it. Will Linda come to terms with her foul deed or will she perish herself?
This is a finely crafted film. Bava's direction is taut and suspenseful. The more time that progresses in the film and the higher the levels of tension get till it permeates every scene. I like how Bava tries to start a love triangle within the film but then pulls the rug out from under you and goes in a different direction. The script is good too, the only complaint I would make is the film would have benefited more from just being a straight suspense film and really did not need the supernatural twist at the end. The main story was good enough it did not need that. The cast is good too, Scola reminds me a lot of Sophia Loren and she has a musky sexuality that permeates all her scenes. She also has a good acting range that she is able to show all the emotions needed when she finally breaks down at the end. Brandon is also great as the scummy and amoral lover who doesn't care about anything but his own base needs. Barberini is the drifter is very good too, he makes you sympathetic for him from the get go, but deep within you know he is plotting something. The SFX and effects are good, there is not much but what there is shown and used very well. The fire at the end of the film is probably the best effect in the film. This is a solid suspense film that would be a great film if not for the unnecessary supernatural angle at the end.
This one gets 3 out of 5

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