Amer -- Film Review

This homage to vintage Italian horror films is more impressive for its visual stylization than content. 

Paying tribute to the psycho-sexually drenched giallo Italian horror films of the '60s and '70s, “Amer” does the genre no favors.

This tedious exercise in abstraction by Belgian filmmakers Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani well apes the visual stylization of such filmmakers as Mario Bava and Dario Argento without bothering to provide anything equivalent in terms of theme or content.

“Amer” -- the title is the French word for “bitter” -- centers on a young woman, Ana, as she undergoes a series of sexual and violent provocations during three phases of her life-childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Taking place largely in an opulent seaside chateau and its nearby environs, it pretty much dispenses with plot and dialogue in favor of episodic, surrealistic scenes depicting the character's erotic life as she is forced to contend with an endless series of leering, threatening figures, both men and women. As anyone who's seen this film's inspirations might well guess, things ultimately don't turn out well for her.

While the film exerts an undeniable intermittent fascination, it fails to consistently sustain interest over the course of its feature-length running time. But there's no denying that the directors have done their homework; “Amer” expertly boasts the same sort of color-saturated, hypnotic images and atmospheric soundtrack that marked the previous examples of its genre, with plenty of gooseflesh-inducing close-ups, bizarre images and startling cuts in editing to keep the eye, if not the mind, occupied. To further add to its verisimilitude, it features a soundtrack composed of music lifted directly from the scores of such composers as Ennio Morricone and Stelvio Cipriani. 

Opened Oct. 29 (Olive Films)
Production: Tobina Film, Anonymes Films
Cast: Cassandra Foret, Charlotte Eugene-Guibbaud, Marie Bos, Bianca Maria, D'Amato, Harry Cleven
Directors/screenwriters: Helene Cattet, Bruno Forzani
Producers: Eve Commenge, Francois Cognard
Director of photography: Manu Dacosse
Editor: Bernard Beets
Production designer: Alina Santos
Costume designer: Jackye Fauconnier
No rating, 90 min.