Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Jace Anderson, Walter Fasano, Adam Gierasch and Simona Simonetti
Starring: Asia Argento, Daria Nicolodi, Moran Atias, Coraline Cataldi-Tassoni and Phillippe Leroy
Suspiria is a masterpiece of a film that didn’t need a sequel. It worked perfectly as a stand alone film and the forced sequel Inferno only proves that point. Way back in the late 1970s, Dario Argento promised that Suspiria was the first part of a trilogy and the final part of that trilogy is Mother of Tears, which finally came out thirty years after the first part, in 2008. There were many false starts for the final instalment, many abandoned scripts, including one that was written in the 1980s that was completely scrapped.
When an extended part of Mother of Tears was originally shown at Cannes Film Festival in 2007 it received mixed reactions. Argento die-hard fans stood by it, while others criticised it. The majority thought the cinematography was beautiful but the script and acting was heavily criticised. It feels fitting, following the critical panning of Suspiria and Inferno that Mother of Tears would receive a critical backlash when it was first released. Unlike the first two films, the third hasn’t had much of a reappraisal, although it is overdue.
Something that stands out about Mother of Tears that towers it above Inferno is that it actually feels like a true sequel to Suspiria. It isn’t just imitating what made the original so great, it does it’s own thing but it’s set within the world that’s already been created. It links back to the original plot-wise in a much more interesting way. The characters are linked and it deepens our understanding of the events of the first one. Funnily enough it glazes over Inferno almost completely. Despite the links, it still works as a stand alone film and if you find yourself watching it with no idea about the first two, you won’t find yourself lost in anyway.
Like Argento’s work in the 70s and 80s, Mother of Tears is a violent and gory film. There is extreme amounts of violence and blood. The effects are incredible, at least the practical ones are. They are stomach churningly good. The CGI, on the other hand, is just straight up bad. There’s a ghost/spirit that features at one point and it looks incredibly bad, to the point of laughter.
Dario Argento’s daughter, Asia Argento, stars as Sarah Mandy who is studying art restoration in Rome. An urn is shipped to the museum and Sarah’s boss opens it up and is then brutally murdered by the followers of Mater Lachrymarum in front of Sarah. The followers chase Sarah and start to hunt her down while Sarah tries to discover the secret of the three mothers.
Asia Argento is great in the role and gives a really decent performance that keeps you invested in the story as it progresses with lots of twists and turns that you don’t see coming. It builds up a great sense of dread that builds to the final showdown with the final mother.
One of the staples of the trilogy is bright and bold primary colours. Suspiria is a beautiful film with its use of colours and lighting. Inferno mimics that with lesser success. The primary colours reappear in Mother of Tears, although in a much more muted way. They don’t feel as noticeable in this one and you can tell the film is made decades after it’s predecessors.
The biggest fallback of the film is the amount of nudity, especially towards the end. It feels unneeded and just seems exploitative. There’s no reason for it to be in the film at all, especially after Suspiria and Inferno, which are filled with really strong female characters (which does continue into Mother of Tears), the nudity feels very out of place for the series.
Mother of Tears is a worthy sequel to Suspiria. It’s not as good, but that would be near impossible. It’s completely its own film with great practical effects, a gripping story and extreme amounts of gore. The bad CGI and needless nudity does detract a little, but this is still a great film.