Blog Archive

Sunday, November 01, 2009

23. Schock

Schock (Shock aka Beyond the Door 2) 1977
*** 1/2
Dir. Mario Bava
Fright Level: 6/10
Scare Type: haunted house, nightmare.
subgenre: evil child, possession, evil spirit.

Shock was the final film of Italian legend Mario Bava, one of the most influential horror directors in film history. I was really surprised to find out how little known this film is. This is a Bava film in that both father and son directed it; in ill health and wanting to give his son Lamberto, who wrote the screenplay, experience in directing, Bava would often delegate his duties. That said there really doesn't feel like there's a whole lot of distinctive difference between the two styles, and we would shortly find out that Lamberto (Demons) had a very different style than his father.

Daria Nicolodi (one of the Argento's key actresses) gives a tremendous performance as a widowed mother who has just recently re-married and is moving back into her old house. Hoping to help his wife conquer her demons from her previous marriage, a co-dependent drug relationship. But her new husband is a pilot, meaning that she spends much of the time alone in a large house, haunted by half-remembered memories, nightmares, and the increasingly strange behavior of her son who seems to know things he shouldn't. The kid is creepy, and is played well by David Colin Jr, who strangely never acted again.

The first third of the film focuses on the child, creating deep unease about his behavior; it's sort of a red herring, but the truth is much more disturbing. The way that the film plays on several different tropes of subgenres is really its great strength. Bava creates some vivid and artful dream sequences, and the film features an incredible soundtrack by the rock band I Libra. The film remains pretty consistent in staying inside the house, and things build to a maddening climax featuring some really inventive low-fi yet surreal effects.

This is a great horror film that deserves its reputation as something of a forgotten classic.

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