Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Slasher Crap?: Dario Argento's The Card Player

Oh Dario, I seem to be the only one that understands you, sometimes.  There's a common conception out there that Dario Argento's work has pretty much gone down hill for the last thirty years.  To that I say 'Did you watch all of his movies?'  Has he made some less-than-great ones in that time?  Yes.  The Stendhaal Syndrome is weird, arty and confusing, but mostly miscast.  That's actually the big point of contention for most people: Asia Argento.  As soon as she got old enough, Dario cast her as the lead/major character in most, if not all of his movies.  Is that a problem?  It can be.  She was not convincing as the Detective in the aforementioned film, nor was she convincing as an Opera Singer in his Phantom of the Opera film either.  Regardless, he's made some great films, some good films, some bad ones and even some weird ones.  Speaking of at least two of those, there's his 2004 film The Card Player.  It's a gimmicky film, but it's one that I actually like.  The gimmick is odd, but it doesn't make the whole film feel like some sort of experiment. Instead, it uses this gimmick to mix up the basic Giallo/Slasher tropes a bit & add some mystery.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it a good one to check out?  Yes.  To find out more, shuffle up and deal...
Our heroine is a tough-talking Detective and...she's not Asia Argento.  Granted, I think it's because she was busy in America, but it's a point nonetheless.
A killer is abducting women and killing them based on whether or not the Police will play him in Video Poker.

Yes, that is silly, but just go with it.
How do you diffuse the tension of people dying in front of the audience?  If you guessed 'have an Opera singing Mortician,' you'd be right.  Why would you guess that?!?
Our heroine teams up with an Irish Detective- who's there because the first victim was a British Tourist- to solve the crimes.  Hope you know how to play Poker...
...although this guy does.  Yes, our heroes track down a Video Poker Whiz-Kid to help them stop the killings.  This sounds silly, but you just have to go with it.  It's all very serious.
To the film's credit, no game goes the same way.  One doesn't start, another goes badly, etc.
Things take a turn for the worse as the Police's ringer meets a less-than-friendly fate.  Time for Plan C, I guess.
In The End, our heroine and the Killer- no reveal here- are chained to a train track and must play for their lives!
Our heroine wins the day and- randomly- finds out that she's pregnant.  No, I don't know why that's so important, but okay.  The End.
No hate here.  To be honest, I was expecting something sub-par here.  Consider the plot- a killer does murders if the Police lose to him/her at Video Poker.  That's just silly.  The movie makes it work though, treating the game as deadly serious.  As I said earlier, each 'game' is different too.  You don't see four games of Video Poker...because that would be boring.  If you can get past the gimmicky nature of the plot, there's some real suspense, character development and mystery that occurs.  Granted- the reveal of the killer is not the best and the twist is somewhat taken from another Argento movie (I won't say which one).  The ride is good though, even if the finish is not all that great.  As a whole, this movie has everything you expect from an Argento movie.  There aren't a lot of big, camera moves though, which could be a good thing or a bad thing for you.  The only thing I question- who is this guy they keep showing with the Camera?  Seriously, this is never addressed!!!
Next up, another Project Terrible film.  This one involves ghosts, found footage and...a portal to Hell?  Stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment