It was undoubtedly time to take a pigeon step away from the recent livewithfilm horror trend. And what a small change it was. For Dario Argento’s twisted crime thriller turned out to be a puzzle of unknown killers, splashes of gore, shady eroticism and bizarrely unsettling camera work: Giallo at its finest. Therefore livewithfilm needs to look further afield. But having treated itself to a newly rereleased copy of Bava’s Dèmoni (1985) (incidentally produced by Argento), this blogger will have to resist the urge to return to the dark side.
After overhearing a whispered conversation outside of a medical institute, blind Franco Arno (Karl Malden) and his young niece become curious when, that same night, the building is mysteriously broken into. Once those surrounding the case begin to fall prey to an unknown psychopath, Franco and reporter Carlo (James Franciscus) unite to investigate.
Whilst occasionally reminiscent of Argento’s previous film Bird With the Crystal Plumage (have a look at the livewithfilm review from the twelfth of December last year), Cat O’ Nine Tails still manages to surprise and unnerve in equal measures as it plays out its relentlessly engrossing plot. Both films notably envision the work of a journalist at the centre of a mystery; much like the audience, these figures, grounded in the hunt for truth, are constantly surprised by the darker shocks doled out by Argento. Close flashes of eyeball are consistently unsettling and the killer’s point of view shots appear to be a blueprint for the camerawork of later slasher films such as Halloween (1978). A highly enjoyable film, livewithfilm was totally absorbed, falling for all the tricks and twists and rooting for the beautifully envisioned investigative odd couple. An innovatively crafted crime thriller with the darkest of cores.