Fairytale, aka The Haunting of Helena
Fairytale, aka The Haunting of Helena

Directors: Christian Bisceglia, Ascanio Malgarini
Writer: Christian Bisceglia
Stars: Harriet MacMasters-Green, Sabrina Jolie Perez, Jarreth J. Merz

Given the rather unpromising subject matter – a film about a haunted wardrobe, whoop-di-do – Fairytale, a 2012 film directed by Christian Bisceglia and Ascanio Malgarini, isn’t all that bad. The story follows a young girl (Sabrina Jolie Perez) who after a car crash becomes obsessed with the tooth fairy, to the point of becoming convinced that it’s actually living in her new wardrobe, a sinister piece of Art Deco which her mum (Harriet MacMasters-Green) had rescued from a storage room in the apartment block where they live. Unfortunately, it isn’t the tooth fairy who lives in there; it’s the ghost of a woman who was murdered many years before by her fascist husband, who extracted all her teeth with a pair of pliars before locking her in the offending piece of furniture to die… and this ghost wants her teeth back!

Obviously influenced by Spanish horror films (such as Jaime Balaguero’s Darkness and Fragile) and with nods to Italy’s illustrious horror past (a rain of bloody teeth recalling the maggot shower in Suspiria) this is decently shot and technically acceptable. There are a few interesting ideas, unfortunately none of which are developed in any depth: Italy’s fascist past and it’s connection to the present (it makes much of its setting in Latina, one of Mussolini’s flagship new towns, reclaimed from the Pontine marshes in the 1930s); the inter-ralationship between humanity and mosquitoes; the breakdown of the family.

Unfortunately, it’s burdened by some really poor acting. It’s a problem for modern Italian cinema that directors are obsessed with shooting films in English when it seems they have little ability to direct English dialogue, it would be far better if they were to use subtitles (the Spanish approach) or even dubbing, in the old school Italian style. Neither would be less effective than the range of wooden performances on show here and in other genre titles like Visions, My Lai Four etc etc. The best actor of the bunch is respected director Giuliano Montaldo, who has a brief cameo as a psychiatrist.

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