March 19, 2018 The Transparent Woman (Movie Review)
Mario Bava. Dario Argento. Lucio Fulci. These names pop up when Italian Giallo Horror is on the mind. Known for blood, bombast, and visual extravagance, Giallo terrifies as well as mystifies.
These names come out from the past. Who are the filmmakers treading new ground and following in the tradition of these giants? Domiziano Cristopharo is one such filmmaker. He attempts to stamp the genre with his entry The Transparent Woman, available on DVD Tuesday, March 20, 2018 through Bayview Entertainment. Cristopharo (House of Flesh Mannequins 2009, Phantasmagoria 2014) pulls quadruple duty as co-writer, director, cinematographer, and producer. What has he wrought?
The Transparent Woman is the tale of a couple forced out of their swanky city apartment and into the childhood home of Carl (Arian Levanael: Bloody Sin 2011, Dark Waves 2015). Anna (Roberta Gemma: Hyde’s Secret Nightmare 2011, Poern 2015) is his blind, independent-minded wife. As soon as they move in, Anna begins to suspect not all is right.
Some critics of Giallo Horror have complained that the genre likes to take its time establishing things. The Transparent Woman is similar in this sense. It spends most of the first half hour of the film observing Anna in various states of undress topping that off with a long sex scene between the couple.
Is this exploitative? Perhaps. Giallo has a history of being shocking for shock’s sakes. This is a very physical movie, though. It makes sense that bodies and physicality tell the story. The film spends a lot of time following Anna’s hands as she feels out her surroundings. Carl often leaves her at the house by herself, so she has to figure out her living space without much help from her beau.
What is to be made of this? The film is certainly patient in setting the mood. That being said, the payoff of that mood is what matters. What is the film being patient for?
Carl demonstrates increasingly bizarre behavior throughout the film. Eventually, the reasons become clear, of course. The problem is that Cristopharo’s noble attempt to create that off-putting mood does not really result in much. There is no sense of real momentum in the story. The cinematography does not create much of a sense about the house that there is something wrong, despite the audience is supposed to be feeling it. Weird things just kind of happen as Anna goes about her days.
Nothing ever really congeals and, though there are briefly creepy moments, it is not too horrifying, however. The acting does not help Cristopharo’s cause, unfortunately. Give Roberta Gemma credit. As a pornographic actress, she tries here. Her Anna takes to her surroundings quickly (and almost unbelievably). The less said about Levanael’s Carl the better. The acting overall is poor at best, though with one bright spot. There is a legitimately creepy turn that comes from the character of Father Mario (Giovanna Nocetti: Hyde’s Secret Nightmare 2011). It is just unfortunate that it is little more than a cameo appearance necessary for exposition. Nocetti does the best she can with it.
Ultimately it builds to a climax that seems unnecessarily violent, as if the gore will make up for the lack of anything substantial, or exciting, happening up until that point. What follows this can only be called a complete non-sequitur. Nothing in the film’s story comes close to implying something such as this was even possible of happening in the film’s universe. It feels gimmicky and tacked on purely for shock value. It is too mean-spirited to be laughable.
At best, The Transparent Woman never quite feels like more than a half-fleshed out idea that lingers a little too long. It is a stab at a Giallo-style film that, unfortunately, does not hit the mark. As a result, CrypticRock gives The Transparent Woman 1.5 out of 5 stars.