MPAA RATING: R Running Time: 90 min Directed by: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani Written by: Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani Starring: Cassandra Foret, Charlotte Eugene Guibeaud, Marie Bos
Giallo. I will be up front before I go on any further. I am the least knowledgeable in this sub-genre of horror. Some might not even consider it horror necessarily. AMER has been listed by some as an homage to the Giallo, while others list it as the genre's latest chapter. I haven't seen enough of the genre to make a discernible judgement in that department. So this review will probably reflect all of this.
AMER covers three stages of Ana's life. Childhood in her isolated spooky mansion overlooking a beach, a small piece of adolescence in which she begins to express sexual fantasy and exploration while and then finally as an adult, returning to her isolated mansion for the third act which features a brutal conclusion. I imagine there will be debate over which segment is the most powerful, and that most votes will land on the first or third act. Personally I found the first act to be the most effective. Perhaps it is my familiarity with the styling of Dario Argento. The uber closeup shots, the shade of color that spills on screen to overemphasize the mood and tone of the scene. Or perhaps because witnessing a child terrorized by forces not quite explained totally can be downright creepy!
AMER does not feature a lot of dialogue. However it is not to the films detriment. Quite frankly dialogue is not needed. The score (much of which is borrowed from Giallo classics) and amplified sound effects get the job done. Ever drip of water, every slam of a door, as well as every gust of wind is focused on so carefully by the filmmakers that you won't even notice that large parts of the film have gone by without a single word said. We know what the characters are thinking, and most of the time that is plenty.
AMER is a movie that will leave a lot open tointerpretation. Every step of the way, including elements of each act the viewer will be teased, confused, forced to choose their own idea of what exactly is going on. (What the hell exactly is on the other side of the door dammit). This will feel like a strength to some or a weakness to others. While the true origin of the black leather gloved killer is never revealed indefinitely the viewers cannot escape the feeling that they themselves are every bit as perv-y as the killer in the movie. That to me is where the movie succeeds on a grand scale. We can't help but feel titalized at times from what is unfolding on screen at any given time, while also at the same time feeling mortified for being titalized.
AMER is not a film for everyone. In fact I am willing to bet at least half the people who might watch it based on my review will turn it off barely ten minutes into it and never look back. If Argento, Bava, and other over-stylized genres of film are not your thing then you might want to steer clear. Me personally? If this is what is hovering on the outskirts of the Giallo sub-genre, I am ready to dive in face first and immerse myself!