Dario Argento usually delivers when it’s horror time!
Screenplay By: Dario Argento
Directed By: Dario Argento
I have come to greatly respect Dario Argento the more enmeshed I become in the horror world. There’s something about his films that connect with me on a gut level. I know what I’m getting from a Signore Argento film, and I almost always love what I get. Now, before anyone gets the wrong idea, I haven’t seen any of the famed horror director’s later work. In fact, Opera is the most recent film of his I have seen. My reason for avoiding his modern output is simple, I harbor trepidation about those films harming the legacy of Signore Argento. Having seen Opera, I can’t say that my trepidation has been lessened in any fashion.
The creeks and the cracks are visible in Signore Argento’s armor in Opera. So much of the first half of the film is pointless and speaks to a director letting his fetishes get the better of him. Giallo has always been Signore Argento’s bread and butter, but his fetish for violence against women and the raucous prog rock that accompanies said killings has never been as opulent as it is in Opera. It’s sad to say, but I found myself bored with the first half of Opera. The atmosphere was virtually nonexistent as the film took on the form of a nebulous concept. There was no concreteness to any of the action, the violence, the deaths, or the characters. The first half of Opera is vacuous set piece after vacuous set piece, with Signore Argento letting his fetish for a certain style of filmmaking get in the way of making an actual quality film.
The second half is a different bird altogether. The point of view shot is pretty much dropped from the second half. It does appear a few times, but it makes sense when it does appear and it no longer exists as a flashy trick of the camera. The violence, blood, and gore is just as cringe inducing in the second half as it was in the first half. Yet, it works so much better because instead of focusing on his excessive tendencies Signore Argento allows the second half of Opera to take on the form of a strongly woven atmospheric Giallo. I had a blast watching the second half of Opera, much more than I expected to coming off of such a weak first half.
Opera is a film of two halves, two diametrically opposed halves. The first half is the personal excess of a director laid bare. The second half is said director righting the ship and delivering the atmospheric brand of horror that made him famous. That’s not to say that the second half is formulaic, because outside of the reveal of the villain the second half of Opera is wide open in terms of its twists and turns. The second half of Opera is a must see for any horror fan, and that makes Opera as a whole a movie that horror buffs owe it to themselves to see. Dealing with the shoddy first half will pay off when looking at Opera as a whole. I have the feeling that moving forward with his filmography the first half of Opera is all that Signore Argento has left in the tank, and that saddens me right down to the deepest parts of my horror soul.