This is the third film from Dario Argento that I’ve featured in The Friday Night Movie posts. Clearly, I like the director. I’ve been trying to catch up on his filmography past the period of what would generally be called his prime. He’s definitely made some bad movies, most of them being made in the 1990s and beyond, and there was a time when I would have said he’d not made a good movie since Opera in 1987 (in fact I more or less said that in my review of Dark Sunglasses). But I think my opinion is changing.
Nobody is going to call his late career movies better than his output in the 1970s into the 1980s, but some of his later movies aren’t bad. Sleepless falls easily into that category. He’s very much aping some of those early films with a black-gloved killer, lots of stylish camerawork, red herrings galore, plenty of blood-soaked violence and he even got Goblin to do the music.
Unfortunately, it feels a little too much like an old master copying his greatest pieces long after he’s lost the particular genius that made them so special.
The great Max Von Sydow plays an aging, retired detective who gets sucked back into an old case, one he thought was solved years ago. But when more people start being murdered in the same manner he begins to realize he pinned the wrong man all those years ago.
He teams up with a man whose mother was killed by the murderer when he was just a boy. There are a lot of twists and turns and expectations that the killer is this person or that only to have everything upturned right at the end.
Argento’s signature style is there, but it feels a little muted. There isn’t any particular image that really stood out to me. Though there is a nice bit showing the insides of an answering machine that was pretty cool. The director never shied away from extreme violence, but here he leans more toward blood and gore than stylishness.
It isn’t top-tier Argento, but it is a long way from his worst and that’s always good to see at this stage in his career.