Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Art Cinema, please meet the Horror Genre."
"How do you do, Horror Genre?"
"Horror Genre, don't be rude. Say 'Hello' to Art Cinema."
"Uhh, hey?"

That's the Saturday afternoon approach to summing up the stylish opening sequence from Nicolas Roeg's 1973 thriller, Don't Look Now. Roeg was personally responsible for the glossy camerawork, and this aspect is only rivaled by Donald Sutherland's performance and that little red parka in terms of its lasting appeal.

What makes the drowning chapter so great in clip form is that Don't Look Now never again hits a note this high. After their daughter's death, John (Sutherland) and Laura Baxter (Julie Christie) leave for Venice, where hallucinations, psychic phenomena, and Roeg's menacing location photography await. Without spoiling anything, it all sinks into a rather unsatisfying third and final act.

And this really doesn't detract from Don't Look Now. It's a film experiment wearing a Halloween mask. I don't think I'm far off by typing that the intention is to provide viewers with an extraordinary experience, immersing us in images that have a psychological impact that bounds way outside the bland narrative about second sight. For paranormal horror with a powerful hook and a soaring finale, I go with The Exorcist, also from 1973.

Overall, this clip has to be one of my personal favorites in the history of horror. It's cryptic, visually stunning, and easily unhinged from the the Venice-set fever dream that follows.

- Brian Elza

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