Just out in Italian cinema… Stefano Bessoni’s Imago Mortis. This is one that there’s been some buzz around for a while now.
It’s a giallo, influenced partly by the old classics of Argento, Fulci etc, but also by the more recent wave of Spanish chillers. The script was co-written by Richard Stanley of Dust Devil and Luis Berdejo ([Rec], The Christmas Tale), while director Bessoni served his apprenticeship with Pupi Avati. So there’s a bit of quality about the people involved, and the initial word has been… mixed to positive.
It’s certainly been doing pretty well at the box office, taking nearly €460,000 on it’s opening weekend (bringing it in at no.7 in the box office charts, below other new releases such as Australia and Bvenerley Hills Chihuahua (give me strength) but not a bad performance by any means ).
Whether it proves popular enough to kickstart a comparable trend to the Spanish or UK genre boom of recent years… well, let’s wait and see; I’m unconvinced, but would love to be proven wrong.
Anyway, the plot… To quote from CinEuropa:
Is it possible to reawaken the Italian horror cinema created by masters such as Riccardo Freda, Antonio Margheriti, Mario and Lamberto Bava, Michele Soavi, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento? Stefano Bessoni thinks so and worked at his project for years, to make Imago Mortis in the wake of Spaniards Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, Alejandro Amenábar and Juan Antonio Bayona.
From a script he co-wrote with Luis Alejandro Berdejo (screenwriter of REC, the 43-year-old former assistant director to Pupi Avati has made a gothic film for lovers of thrillers and film itself. The €3m Italian-Spanish co-production – Sonia Raule for Pixtar and Alvaro Augustin for Telecinco Cinema, with Ireland’s I.I.D. – spans German Expressionism and Tim Burton, and every frame is a reference, more or less explicit, to the horror genre.
“My film aspires to del revive fantasy cinema, as is happening in Spain,” said Bessoni. Imago Mortis is being released on 200 screens by Medusa on January 16.
In the rundown FW Murnau Film School, a student (young Spanish actor Alberto Amarilla from The Sea Inside) discovers an ancient instrument of death, the thanatoscope, created by scientist Girolamo Fumagalli to immortalise on a plate the last image seen by the victim’s retina. Behind the instrument lies a plot by the school’s teachers, led by the mysterious Countess Orsini (Geraldine Chaplin).
“Photographic images have always scared the hell out me, it’s like robbing someone’s soul. That’s why I liked this script,” says the daughter of the great Charlie Chaplin, who in Robert Altman’s Nashville played a camera-toting reporter. “Stefano is a director who has created his own, unique world,” added Amarilla. A world that is a celebration of open cinema and all the nuances of the occult.