When Dario Argento's now enshrined horror classics Suspiria and Inferno are fondly recalled, it's never in terms of their narratives, characters, or even forward momentum. Rather, it's the isolated images and set pieces: dark rooms drenched in red or blue gels, horrific deaths choreographed with the obsessive-compulsive precision of a ruthless artisan, gorgeous framing and pummeling soundtracks that heighten all the senses at once. Of course, then there are the idiotic plots: for while Argento illuminates the occult as a tactile, living thing, he has never shown the slightest interest in making that terror seem like something that could exist outside of the frame.
It's what separates even his best films (Deep Red, Suspiria, Opera) from seminal genre classics like Rosemary's Baby, or the great early films from John Carpenter, which gave off the sense that evil is verifiably here on Earth as opposed to something to be beautifully set designed. Take away Argento's undeniable craft, and what would you really be left with?
The answer is Mother of Tears, the official third part of the "Three Mothers Trilogy," that, while continuing the saga set forth by Suspiria and Inferno over thirty years ago, contains little of those films' visual ingenuity, and a surplus of their unchecked sadism. Having the dubious distinction of being at once sickening and utterly ineffectual, Mother of Tears seems destined for a short burst of horror geek enthusiasm, soon to be tempered by the reality of its filmmaker's sad decline.
Click here to read the entirety of Michael Koresky's review of Mother of Tears.