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Sleepless (Non ho sonno) Review
Directed By: Dario Argento.
Starring: Chiara Caselli, Gabriele Lavia, Max von Sydow, Paolo Maria Scalondro, Roberto Zibetti, Stefano Dionisi.
Synopsis: One of the major innovators of the horror film, Italian director Dario Argento (Tenebre, Suspiria) was one of the first auteurs to raise the previously dismissed genre to the level of art. Known for his striking visuals and elegant approach to gore and violence, Argento teams up with acclaimed actor Max von Sydow (The Exorcist, Strange Brew, Seventh Seal) for this terrifying murder mystery. When a town becomes plagued by a group of grisly murders, von Sydow finds himself called on to find the killer.
I am pleased to say that I enjoyed Sleepless quite a lot. Argento was in a bit of a rut in the nineties with the mediocre Trauma (1993) and the awful Stendhal Syndrome (1996), but has rebounded nicely. He has reverted back to the style of the giallo, ever present in his early films.
An elderly detective (Max von Sydow) comes out of retirement when the serial murders of a killer he thought long dead resume some 17 years later. With the help of the son of one of the murder victims, he tries to discover the killer's mysterious pattern that seems to involve an old nursery rhyme.
Though the acting performances (Sydow excluded, of course) in Argento's films are not often the greatest, the stories and visuals are always original enough to make you enjoy the ride. To further credit this, his films almost always utilize the same "I could solve this case if I could just remember..." plot device, but somehow manages to come up with refreshing variations. Sleepless uses copious amounts of gore effectively, which is also a standard. I was also glad to see that Argento had reteamed with Goblin. His score complimented the film as well as it did with Argento's masterpiece, Suspiria.
So, if you're in the video store looking for a horror film, I recommend you pick this one up. There's a lot of bad horror films with flashy covers on those shelves (believe me, I know) and if you are a fan of Dario Argento, you will not be disappointed.
Copyright© Written By: Tom Servo
Director and Cast Filmographies
Video: Standard 1.33:1
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Stereo
The DVD Review:
I had been waiting to see this film for quite a while. Dario Argento has always been one of my favourite horror directors and I watch his films religiously, but that usually depends on if there is a distributor that is kind enough to release his films domestically. God bless a company called Anchor Bay that over the last few years has re-released many Italian horror films (and it's not just Argento either; Lucio Fulci and the Bava family have both received attention from this wonderful distributor) on DVD. Previously, I had had to resort to poor quality transfers found in back alley rental stores. Try watching a film that's Italian, dubbed in English (that sometimes inexplicably switches to French and then back to English again) with Japanese subtitles and see how it translates. It's really a testament to those films that I still came out of it thinking it was a positive experience. Luckily, this time Argento's latest effort is widely available and I was able to pick up at the corner video store.