The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

With my pre-existing knowledge of Italian horror auteur Dario Argento – admittedly mostly garnered from watching Juno – I watched this apprehensively, ensuring the girlfriend – who scares easily – was out of the flat, and a sick bucket and towels were close to hand, lest the television begin leaking the copious flow of blood that would soon inevitably be filling up the screen. It is with a relieved sense of disappointment that I can confirm this is not a horror, more a suspense thriller, following a down on his luck American writer seeking inspiration in Italy, who witnesses an attempted murder whilst he is trapped between two sheets of glass. Discovering the attack was the handiwork of an active serial killer, he becomes obsessed with the case, up to the point where he is hunted by those who’d rather the killer remain unknown. Mostly following the standard crime whodunit formula, this effectively cranks up the suspense, but the goriness and brutality of the occasional murder jars with the largely sedate tone of the rest of the film. There are nice comedic touches – tracking down the man in the yellow jacket – and a collection of memorable oddball supporting characters including a stuttering pimp and a reclusive cat eating art collector, but this is little more than a sporadically bloodier version of A Touch of Frost.
Choose life 5/10
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