Dario Argento has long since been seen as a master of the horror genre, but a great deal of his work is dismissed as being of lesser quality by people who are constantly comparing more recent works to earlier films such as Suspiria, Tenebrae and the like. Much is made of the fact that later films don’t look like the earlier ones. This isn’t just down to changes in his methods and artistic approach- remember, technology and film production has moved on a hell of a lot since the heady days of the Italian maestro’s trademark projects.
Mother of Tears is the long awaited final chapter in the ‘Three Mothers’ trilogy, the first two parts being horror buff staples Suspiria (1977) and Inferno (1980). This final film eventually arrived in 2007 (and only recently got a UK DVD release), and fans have been divided in opinion, which is easy to understand when watching the film.
I enjoyed it, but the film is at times very confusing. Not in regards to the plot, which is pretty straightforward, but the fact that there are times when you feel as though you are watching two films cut together. On one hand there is a rather enjoyable supernatural thriller with Dario’s famous daughter, Asia, in the lead, and on the other hand there is a poorly made gorefest with ‘spooky’ women being all ‘spooky’ at people. There are scenes in which the acting, direction, cinematography and the whole shebang work perfectly, and then you get scenes that are horrendously captured, dubbed and composed. This mainly refers to the group of cackling harpies that fill Rome once the demonic artefacts have been uncovered and the third Mother is unleashed.
Argento’s visual flair is still very much in evidence, and the film does play well alongside the earlier entries, but ultimately it buckles a little under the weight of expectation that fans have lavished on the project over the years. There is much in the way of fan pleasing going on here. As a whole though, the film is a fun watch if you try to not take it too seriously. Aside from some rather suspect CG, the production is slick, the cinematography is mostly beautiful and Asia adds some much needed star power to a film that is, aside from Asia herself and Udo Kier, lacking in familiar faces. There are some awkward moments where the dub is very noticeable, but for the most part it is presented with on-set or location sound, which helps.
There is gore, sadism, nudity, violence, blood, mad angles, the supernatural, lots of action and lots of atmosphere. This is very much an Argento film, and as the final part of the Three Mothers trilogy, it does actually deliver.