A MUST SEE: Maybe, not for the fainted of hearts, but, for all those who can appreciate a great,new Italian&American film, shot with a rare vigor, and, strength,with a clever dose of impressively personal visual, and, narrative style.
If the plot,or better, the dialog not always is/are flawless,here, the construction, and,the structure of this mysteriously unnerving movie,the enigma the film itself unravels,the pain we must sit through and understand, the same hard core nature, of certain,almost, unspeakable situations, are nonetheless always presented,with such a charismatic,wonderfully intoxicating dose of realism,depicting, without mid terms, a true descent into darkness,by using such a higher and lyric tone, to become most likely (for me,at least!)an impressive, always coherent in its foolish incoherence,even some impeccable homage to such Euro Shock's Classics, such as Pasolini's Salo'(1976), Brass "La Chiave"(1983) or "Snack Bar Budapest"(1988), Fassbinder's "Querelle De Brest"(1982), Polanski's "Compulsion"(1965),while,at the same time, in some different ways, almost amuse the fans of a certain-today very popular and loved- Cult Euro Cinema, clearly becoming,as well,and, with no contrivances, a spectacular, almost loving demonstration of respect,and, dedication to some of Lucio Fulci's or Umberto Lenzi's bleakest Giallo's, ever produced. All this, and more, makes of this bizarre, weird,yet intelligent, and, always heartfelt, emotional film, a great personal success, like the equivalent of an "Irreversible"(2002),or of a "Baise Moi"(2000).
This film has not been seen enough,though,in my opinion, as those others, I mentioned above! Why? I don't know! For me, it remains one of the best in the category of Art exploitation,and, for sure, a true unforgettable cult, that should be seen, and, way more widely discussed.
I know that this movie has been banned or criticized by many Film Festivals, for the use of real violence in some of the scenes! In fact, it is said that, besides, the professional principal cast, all other performers-so called "body modified performers",that is, people who, either because of a personal fetish, or because of their belonging to a movement called in Europe, The Theater of Blood(like live staged plays where people cut or injury themselves in real time, as well as, having sex, or eating glass and swallowing swords,again, right there,just in front of the audience)were indeed utilized, in ways that, for many, went way beyond porn, or acceptable cinematographic rules! Well,in this brave,turbulent, psychological movie there's all that and more, it is true! But,nothing, believe me, nothing, ever feels in bad taste, or useless, since it is all so extremely strictly centered to the core of the narration of the film itself, which, without ever victimizing, or judging, just wants to show what feels true to its authors.
On this regard,the main cast is per se, a revelation! There's an incredible performance by the extraordinary, haunting, Domiziano Arcangeli, an actor that some know as naturally gifted with one of the most unusual, yet, seductive faces,ever,but,here, Arcangeli, most of all, is able to convey an array of stunningly rare emotions,almost like playing a cruel and heartbreaking game with himself, just to bring us a show displaying alternated, disturbing, irresistibly damned, shades of pain, ranging from a progressive illness, to experience the wounds of a delicate soul, prisoner of an emblematic and disturbing sexuality: he manages to create more than a great acting job,for me, here, he's in touch with such an unusual realism, approaching the truly moving crescendo,requested by the plot, to its rare extremes, while, delivering -possibly- a couple of the most touching monologues, I had ever seen, since,maybe, some of Al Pacino's first, and, wilder,famed performances. And,then, there's the gorgeous,intriguing Irena A. Hoffman, another fantastic casting choice, as the stunning Sarah,a female lead, surprisingly and slowly, transforming herself from a seemingly innocent girl, and,transitioning, with, at times, a very hard logical path, into a disruptive, morbid dark lady: even Ms. Hoffman achieves here a star turn's performance,and, with such subtle tones, she is lovely, and, always a genuine, singular, extraordinary, irresistible presence.I'd like to also mention cult star John Morghen(aka:Giovanni Lombardo Radice, of "Cannibal Ferox" or "The City of the Living Dead","The Church",and, "The Omen",among many others)also creating a well crafted, terrifying,refined characterization, as the blind, alcoholic father of the female lead, an eccentric, retired man who may know more than what he tells, and, certainly,he has had a past, way more troubled, than the one,he would like to make us believe.
There's a lot to praise here technically,as well: first, and, foremost, an exceptional cinematography from the talented Italian, Mirko Sgarzi (why don't they call people like this guy,to work in the US?),and, an unique,genius use of Art Direction, make up,and,finally, costuming, that brings a lot to the visual essence of "House of Flesh Mannequins", giving a true life to the personal,unique World of this little masterpiece!
I know the movie has been even awarded, praised,and,apparently, sold well, but, i still think that something like this, would deserve a lot more mainstream attention,and,maybe, even a re-discovery.
Especially, if we consider what we are put through these grim days, this movie should be, at least, given the chance to qualify, as a new Von Trier's movie. It definitely has got the guts and the art, for such attention and praise!
Director and author,Domiziano Cristopharo's, first,and, so far, best, most accomplished feature film, it is a rare prodigy of unforgettable quality, and,a mix of brave voices telling us with raw, excruciating pain, about an Evil we think so far away from us,but,that, instead, may be a lot closer than what we actually believe! Those who don't see it,may be, sadly, just those living or 'covering' for it!
I wouldn't listen to some of the comments made by the average audiences, or by mildly frustrated intellectuals,often labeling this movie as pure exploitation. This is something else, something a lot more important!
Morbid like its social commentary, brave like its excellent protagonist, and, director(they both have the same,rare first name, by a curious coincidence)this is a strong and unforgettable representation of one,but, still one painfully truly existing side, of our modern times, and, reflecting an unique light at the end of the tunnel, the movie just like some of the Classic's, we have loved or discussed for decades, keeps on talking and revealing new forbidden truths to many, who can relate or understand!