The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears (2013, directed by Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani)
I won't dispute that the unholy mixture of murder, sex and deviance that make up the giallo is an acquired taste, but until Cattet and Forzani burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with Amer it seemed a genre that was rooted too firmly in a specific time and place to ever be successfully updated (with Richard Rush's misunderstood Bruce Willis vehicle The Color of Night sadly being the only real attempt to transplant it to North America). The demented rococo visions of early Dario Argento films like The Bird With the Crystal Plumage or Deep Red, and the host of other Italian giallo that followed in Plumage's wake, seemed too much a product of the '70s to endure into the modern age. Even Argento himself lost his touch somewhere in the early '80s, as his giallo efforts after Tenebrae have been decidedly shoddy affairs. The Card Player, for instance, is right alongside the Schumacher Batmans on my list of films I refuse to acknowledge ever actually happened.
Cattet and Forzani have found the key, though. Somehow, they have discovered a way to make 21st century giallos, and in doing so have produced a spectacle the likes of which you have never seen before. I know that phrased gets overused, but trust me. You have absolutely never seen anything like The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears.
The story begins with a husband returning home from a business trip to find that his wife has vanished from their apartment. In a drunken frenzy he accidentally locks himself out of their ludicrously ornate building, and in randomly pressing buzzers in a desperate attempt to get back in and/or find his wife he discovers that the building's other residents have their own secrets, and own perversions. As his search, and his life, and the film itself spirals out of control the various storylines begin to echo and intersect until the entire apartment complex becomes one big web of depravity.
The allusions to classic Argento films abound, from the score to the bright color palette to the stylish '70s rotary phones, but the movie so completely owns its identity that the references really just act as grace notes. On Twitter I commented immediately after seeing it that Strange Colour felt like Tenebrae's pivotal sadomasochistic flashback scene reflected in a shattered mirror in the foyer of Inferno's apartment building, but in thinking about it further that just scratches the surface. At times it feels a bit like the first season of American Horror Story, if you replace Ryan Murphy's crass blunderings with cool European panache. But comparing this film to existing works is just a clumsy approximation, an excuse to try and keep some distance between yourself and its deadly seduction. Strange Colour is a kaleidoscopic hallucination fueled by every secret desire you've dared not speak out loud. It's freakish and sexy and gorgeous and deeply, deeply disturbed, and once its imagery has insinuated itself into your brain you might never be the same again.
Also, you'll probably be lured to your doom by a brunette bombshell named Laura. But hey, I can think of worse ways to go.
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