I always wondered what had happened to Eros Puglielli, the director of the revivalist giallo Eyes of Crystal in 2004. It was a good enough film to hint that he would go on to better things, but such is the state of the Italian film industry that it was not to be: he now works in television and was recently behind the acclaimed series Baciamo le mani: Palermo-New York 1958. But before moving his focus completely to the small screen he also made AD Project (2006), a micro-budgeted production which was released straight to DVD.
The story follows a group of seemingly random characters who congregate in a small town where some mysterious stuff is going down. There’s actor Marco (Marco Bonini), just arrived for an audition with his frustrated girlfriend (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) in tow; an experimental psychiatrist (Giorgio Albertazzi) whose latest patient (Eleonora Mazzoni) seems to have experienced some kind of unknown trauma and is frankly rather scaring him; her husband (Cristiano Callegaro), who owes money to a mysterious organisation; and a weird porn website owner (Emiliano Reggente). Events slowly build towards a climax at some deserted out of town buildings which are protected by a weird area of high pressure and a shadowy character called ‘the guardian’.
A.D. Project can’t be faulted for it’s ambition. Its budget ($356 according to IMDB) was provided by the cast and crew, who also all act as co-producers, and it was distributed straight to magazine kiosks throughout Italy. Given its limited means, it’s an audacious attempt to do a Dvaid Lynch style story of fractured narratives, weird events and alienated characters. It’s well shot with cinematography that would put many bigger budget features to shame and a suitably creepy atmosphere. Perhaps unsurprisingly the acting can be shakey, the script is often confusing and it seems to run out of steam towards the end. But despite this it’s a laudable effort, and again makes it all the more surprising that Puglielli hasn’t gone on to a more glittering career.