Director: Dario Argento
Writer: Dario Argento
Starring: Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Francine Racette, and Bud Spencer
Four Flies on Grey Velvet is the third film both written and directed by Dario Argento. It was originally released in 1971. It’s also notable since for a very long time it was considered a lost film, without an official release for almost two decades. When it was finally re-released in 2009 it was even missing 40 seconds. Then in 2012, marking twenty years since the film was considered lost, the full uncut version was released on Blu-ray after the missing footage was repaired and inserted back into the film.
Roberto (Michael Brandon), a drummer in a band, is being followed by a strange man. After spotting him one evening on the way home, Roberto confronts the man and in the shuffle accidentally stabs him. Someone else witnesses the events, and starts to leave intimidating notes and photos in Roberto’s home.
The opening of the film is really excellent. It starts with Roberto and his band jamming out while the opening credits start to roll. We then get to the manslaughter scene which is really tense and a little creepy with the masked person watching and documenting everything. It keeps you guessing with who’s behind it all, and you really want to figure it out. Sadly, there’s just not enough clues throughout the film, and a lot of misdirection that feels a little tedious.
Most frustratingly the film also feels like it’s really dragged out. It runs at around a hundred minutes, but feels a lot longer than that. There are some great moments, like the dream sequences and the chase/murder of Amelia (Marisa Fabbri) in the park. She learns the identity of the masked person and tries to confront them. The tension builds and builds throughout the sequence until she’s finally caught.
While the pace is really slow, the ending ramps everything back up. The big reveal does come a little out of left field, but it’s a great moment and snaps you back awake to pay attention. Everything then ends incredibly abruptly, with the credits rolling almost coming as a shock. The story is completely over, but it still happens very quickly.
Despite a great opening and some tense moments, sadly, Four Flies on Grey Velvet neve really gets under your skin.
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