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Phenomena (1985)

Lady of the Flies — Written by vepro on 12.01.2012

Somewhere in “Swiss Transylvania” there is a “Richard Wagner’s international school for girls”. While the unpleasant Foehn wind is blowing and a serial killer strikes again, somewhat special girl comes to the school, unaware that she’ll solve the case. Well, with a little help of her friends.

The plot is quite original but what’s the thing for me in this movie is Argento’s brilliant usage of sound and build up of suspense from the very slow beginning to a very dynamic finish. Sound is what keeps you on the edge, especially if you’re Dario Argento fan, whether we are talking about film music or soundtrack. Iron Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” functions great as our main character is snooping around where she shouldn’t and you know something is going to happen real soon. But when loud music stops and unpleasant silence kicks in that’s where you should expect real shit storm.

It must be said that this movie isn’t so much horror-ish as some other pieces by Argento but is equally thrilling and atmospheric. Except of some gore and explicit decapitation the real horror is happening in the place where cameras eye, (meaning yours too) can’t reach or in girls head. Main character has something similar to Carrie, being misunderstood and rejected by nearly all of her environment and with telekinetic powers that could easily take care of everyone in her way. If you want, you can find here perhaps questions of girl maturing into a woman, or some other growing up problematic that are hidden in sub-text. This wouldn’t take away any of the joy of watching this movie, it could only contribute.

In conclusion I would say that this movie is more disturbing than it is scary, it is little slow in some parts and with minor plot holes but is nevertheless great piece of horror cinema, although not Argento in his best. Best choice for a warm windy night with speakers on maximum.

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